A special adviser to embattled Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo said the arrival of African Union (AU) experts to investigate and find ways to resolve the crisis shows, in his words, an indictment and failure of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to end the political impasse.
Ambassador Yao Gnamien, who is in New York to seek support for his administration, told VOA Mr. Gbagbo is gaining support among African leaders about finding solutions to the Ivorian crisis.
“The presence of the AU experts is very important for our country because, at the beginning, President Gbagbo was calling for this investigation, because the so-called international community sanctioned President Gbagbo without proving that he is guilty,” said Gnamien.
“The stay in Cote d’Ivoire of the (AU) experts will tell all the world what was going on in Cote d’Ivoire after the (November) election, and then we will see whether the president was guilty or not.”
His comments came after James Victor Gbeho, president of the ECOWAS commission, said South Africa is undermining efforts to resolve the Ivory Coast political crisis. Mr. Gbeho criticized South Africa's decision to deploy a Navy frigate to Ivory Coast. He said such actions “can only complicate” the situation.
But, South African officials say the frigate is a support vessel with no military purpose, which could be used as a neutral site for negotiating.
South Africa is part of an AU mediation team given the task of resolving the Ivorian political impasse.
Gbeho accused South Africa of pushing the two sides to negotiate a solution because of its own interests instead of demanding that Mr. Gbagbo cede power.
President Gbagbo is refusing to cede power to rival, President-elect Alassane Ouattara, who most countries recognize as the winner of the November presidential election.
Gnamien said that the outcome of the investigation has to conform to the Ivorian constitution, which he said is the “supreme law of the land.”
“If the AU came to Cote d’Ivoire, it was because of the failure of the ECOWAS. ECOWAS failed to solve the problem. How can they sanction President Gbagbo without listening to him? They were accusing President Gbagbo because they were thinking that President Gbagbo has not been elected,” said Gnamien.
“Instead of saying that, they (ECOWAS) should have investigated first and, after the investigation, then they can make a sound decision. They didn’t do this. And what is now clear is that none of them has sent a message of congratulations to Prime Minister Ouattara.”