News / Africa

Threat of Force Remains in Ivory Coast Negotiations

A U.N. peacekeeper in Ivory Coast stands guard by an UN helicopter used to transport officials and journalists from UNOCI headquarters to the Hotel du Golf, the temporary headquarters of Alassane Ouattara, in Abidjan, 3 Jan 2011
A U.N. peacekeeper in Ivory Coast stands guard by an UN helicopter used to transport officials and journalists from UNOCI headquarters to the Hotel du Golf, the temporary headquarters of Alassane Ouattara, in Abidjan, 3 Jan 2011

West African leaders say a promise by Ivory Coast's incumbent president to resolve his country's political crisis peacefully does not remove the threat of a regional military force to drive him from office.

The Economic Community of West African States says incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo must yield power to the internationally-recognized winner of Ivory Coast's election or be forced out by a coalition of regional troops.

Mr. Gbagbo agreed to negotiate, without preconditions, following talks this week with ECOWAS heads of state and the African Union mediator to the crisis.  But he has not yet agreed to hand over power to former prime minister Alassane Ouattara, who has not left a United Nations-protected hotel since the electoral commission declared him the winner of November's vote.

So the regional threat of force to remove Mr. Gbagbo remains.

"Let me say, without any equivocation, that a military option is still on the cards," said James Gbeho, the president of the ECOWAS alliance. "However, ECOWAS and AU are telling you now that, even if there is a half-percent chance of resolving the problem peacefully, they will exploit it.  And, their initial contacts with both President Gbagbo and President Ouattara indicated some promise of getting them to agree on certain essential elements in order to obviate the force option."

Mr. Gbagbo still controls the army, so a fight for control of Abidjan would be costly, especially as there are many citizens of countries likely to contribute troops to an ECOWAS military force who live in Ivory Coast and might then become targets of Gbagbo militants.

Gbeho says regional leaders understand the difficulties in mounting such a force, but will not hesitate to do so if the crisis cannot be resolved peacefully.

"We, of course, are aware of the dangers in the force option, particularly in a country like Cote d'Ivoire where almost all citizens and ethnic groups of our ECOWAS region are represented.  And so, it is an option that must be used with a lot of circumspection," he said. "But, if push comes to shove, that is what is going to be used."

African mediators have also made clear that there can be no power-sharing deal here.  They insist that Mr. Ouattara is the duly-elected president and Mr. Gbagbo must go.

So the primary focus of further talks appears to be arranging Mr. Gbagbo's departure.  American officials have discussed his moving to the U.S. state of Georgia, where he has relatives.

But so far, Mr. Gbagbo says he is not going anywhere and is using state-run media to portray near-unanimous international support for Mr. Ouattara, as evidence of a plot against the Gbagbo government.

You May Like

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs