The West African grouping ECOWAS says it has made progress on helping end the crisis in divided Ivory Coast after a summit in Nigeria.  Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo refused to attend, saying more mediation is not needed.  But northern rebels are calling for a transitional government without him.

The final communiqué from ECOWAS said Ivory Coast is very important to West Africa and that the 15-member grouping remains on the frontlines to end the conflict.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Olu Adeniji said the nine heads of state had wasted no time Friday, but that their recommendations will not be made public until they are handed over to a special crisis meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council on October 6.

He said it was clear elections would not be possible as scheduled on October 30, and that all options were considered for what should happen after.

"You could leave the present government in place," he said.  "You could change [it], and make some minor modifications, that's another option. You can even have a totally new thing, that's another option, though, I think that would be extreme."

A rebel spokesman, Amadou Kone, says he was encouraged by the work of ECOWAS, and that he hopes there will be a transition without Mr. Gbagbo.

"It's necessary to make a transition as Mr. Gbagbo's legal mandate is ended and our constitution can solve the problem," he said.

But Mr. Gbagbo says the constitution allows him to stay on, and that as soon as the rebels disarm, he can organize elections in three months.

Rebels say they don't have confidence that he will implement new laws, included in repeated peace deals, that should give many northern Ivorians the right to become citizens and vote. 

Ivory Coast, the world's leading cocoa producer has been split in two for three years.