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Ouattara to Attend AU Meeting on Ivorian Crisis Thursday

Ivory Coast's internationally-recognized President, Alassane Ouattara, right, addresses journalists following a meeting with African Union commission chairman Jean Ping, left, at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 5, 2011

An official of Ivorian President-elect Alassane Ouattara’s government says Ouattara will attend the African Union’s Peace and Security Council meeting in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa Thursday, aimed at resolving the ongoing crisis in Ivory Coast.

Patrich Achi, Minister of Infrastructure and Ouattara spokesman, describes the impasse as a dramatic chaos following days of violent clashes between supporters of Ouattara and incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.

“In fact, everything that makes the process move fast is really in agreement with what President Ouattara will like things to be. So, he was quite satisfied with the message that (Chairperson Jean) Ping from the African Union Commission asked him to come on the 10th of March to Addis Ababa for a meeting of the Peace and Security Council.”

Achi says Ouattara wants a speedy resolution of the political stalemate that led to the escalation of violence between supporters of the rival parties.

“President Ouattara has always been concerned with solving the post-electoral crisis peacefully. We’ve had so many deaths…and, as you know, since it started on the 28th of November all the way down, we are counting more than 1,000 deaths one way or the other from former President Gbagbo and his camp,” said Achi.

“So, the crisis has deepened, since all banks have closed and most of the companies fired their employees, the situation is close to dramatic, a real chaos because people don’t have the money and there are so many humanitarian issues to be resolved. And, on top of that, you heard that seven unarmed women (Thursday) were fired upon by a tank of former President Gbagbo’s people.”

Achi describes the killings of the women as shocking to Ivorians saying there is need for the ongoing stalemate to be expeditiously resolved to avoid further bloodshed.

But, senior government officials, as well as officers in the army loyal President Gbagbo, have denied accusations that the protesting women were killed by the soldiers.

In another development, Gbagbo supporters have allegedly looted the homes of at least eight Ouattara ministers. Ouattara aides say members of a pro-Gbagbo youth group, the Young Patriots, raided and ransacked the homes in the commercial capital, Abidjan, beginning Thursday.

The United Nations says at least 365 people have died in post-election violence between rival supporters since early December.