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Ouattara Aide Doubts Negotiations Will Resolve Ivory Coast Crisis

  • Peter Clottey

West African leaders meet with Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, right, at the Presidential palace in Abidjan, 28 Dec 2010, with left to right; Benin President Boni Yayi, Cape Verde President Pedro Pires, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma

An official of former Ivorian Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara told VOA Ouattara’s supporters have always suspected that negotiations with embattled President Laurent Gbagbo are unlikely to resolve the escalating crisis in Ivory Coast.

Patrich Achi, Minister of Infrastructure and spokesman for Mr. Ouattara, said there are no doubts that President Gbagbo will not cede power unless he is forced out.

“I heard that the Cape Verde delegation said that the military force was not an option. So, if (the) military force is not an option anymore, it means he has accepted to go peacefully; otherwise, I don’t see any other means than using military force to remove him,” he said.

West African leaders are scheduled to return to Ivory Coast next week to hold another round of negotiations aimed at convincing President Gbagbo to step down. Mr. Ouattara is the internationally-recognized winner of last month’s election.

Achi said claims by Mr. Gbagbo that he won the 28th November presidential run-off vote are, in his words, childish.

“He was sure that he will win before we even went to the elections. So, he started this election in 2010 being sure that he took everything into account to win. (But), now he lost. There is no way he is going to leave this country or even quit power. No way, and he has been telling it to everyone,” said Achi.

“We knew that he will not leave office. The only thing we didn’t know was that he will be able to have the army forces (backing) him; that we didn’t know.”

The presidents of Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone met with Mr. Gbagbo Tuesday to demand he accept the election results. However, they left Ivory Coast Wednesday after inconclusive talks and went to Nigeria to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan, who chairs the regional bloc ECOWAS. It has warned Mr. Gbagbo that he must step down or face military action.

Meanwhile, the United States said Wednesday it is planning for the possible evacuation of its embassy staff in Abidjan in case violence in the country escalates.

On Tuesday, Mr. Gbagbo's government said it will sever ties with countries that recognize envoys named by Mr. Ouattara. It also said it will expel ambassadors from countries that cut ties with Gbagbo appointees.