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Gbagbo Aide Hails Call for 'Restraint' in Ivory Coast Crisis

  • Peter Clottey

Presidents of Benin Boni Yayi (C) is escorted by Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo's Prime Minister Gilbert Marie N'gbo Ake (R) as he arrives at Felix Houphouet Boigny airport in Abidjan before holding separate talks with Gbagbo and his rival Alassane

A special adviser to Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has praised former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings for being what he described as the “sole voice of reason” in finding solutions to resolving the ongoing crisis in Ivory Coast.

Ambassador Yao Gnamien told VOA President Gbagbo will not step down and hand over power to former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, despite increasing international pressure for him to do so.

“We feel very happy, and we are very grateful to President Jerry Rawlings because his statement is full of wisdom, and we think that all the African citizens, all black people all over the world, have to advise the political leaders of our country to believe and to trust in the peaceful solution in Cote d’Ivoire,” said Ambassador Gnamien.

“I think that nobody can stay far from the theater of the ability and ask President Gbagbo to cede power. It isn’t fair. First of all, it is a controversy borne after an election. So, if they want to find a sound solution, it is better for them to come to Cote d’Ivoire, to listen to the different parties and to identify the origin of the conflict; then, they can make a sound decision.”

This came after the presidents from Sierra Leone, Cape Verde and Benin handed over a demand from the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, in a meeting with Mr. Gbagbo Tuesday at his presidential palace in Abidjan that he step down or face possible removal by military force.

In a statement, former President Rawlings called for extreme restraint and maturity in resolving the Ivorian crisis after saying the problem is not a simple electoral dispute but, in his words, a web of ethnic and political complexities that should be handled with tact and diplomacy rather than the use of sheer military force.

“It is also important that we do not rush into any form of forceful intervention. That will not guarantee a definite resolution of the crisis and may further exacerbate an already volatile situation that could erupt into a full-scale civil war with horrific consequences. Attempts to marshal support for a military intervention lack any justification and, rather, will expose the U.N., ECOWAS and A.U. as being hypocritical,” said former President Rawlings.

But, Patrich Achi, a spokesman for Mr. Ouattara, said Mr. Gbagbo should be forced to step down as a deterrent to other African rulers who may also want to cling to power.

Ambassador Gnamien said the only way out of the crisis is for an “impartial mediator” to listen to the rival parties in order to come up with a solution to solve the problem.

“The decision that they have taken…means that they (international community) don’t think that our country is a sovereign state. They don’t think that our country is a democratic country with its institutions and with its own legal system,” Ambassador Gnamien said.

Meanwhile, Presidents Boni Yayi of Benin, Ernest Koromo of Sierra Leone and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde also held talks Tuesday with the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast.