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UN Envoy in Ivory Coast Resigns

The United Nations peace envoy in divided Ivory Coast is resigning. Meanwhile, South African President Thabo Mbeki is extending an intense mediation visit to salvage peacemaking efforts.

Benin national Albert Tevoedjre says he decided to resign last month, when the Ivory Coast military started bombing northern rebel targets, violating an 18-month cease-fire.

He told VOA he did his best to promote a political solution, but that others must now step in.

"It is time that a political solution goes forward very much," he said. "We have done our best, therefore, for the Ivorians to take into account for themselves [that] a political solution is needed, is necessary. I fought for it. Now, it is time for implementing it. So, they do not need me for that. I have other priorities to fulfill. I want to concentrate myself on them."

Mr. Tevoedjre has been criticized by Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo for favoring the rebels. But the opposition and rebels have accused him of not being aggressive enough in defending the repeated peace deals that have been signed, but not implemented.

Mr. Tevoedjre is expected to remain in his post until a replacement is found.

His announcement came as South African President Thabo Mbeki extended an intense mediation visit, trying to gain concessions from the warring sides.

A news conference was scheduled for midday to conclude his five-day visit, but instead, Mr. Mbeki continued direct consultations with Mr. Gbagbo.

The South African president met rebel leaders in their northern headquarters Sunday, but did not seem to achieve any breakthroughs. Rebels are refusing to disarm, until they have guarantees the peace accord, which would give equal rights to many northerners, is effectively implemented.