ACDP's Meshoe weighs in on Côte d'Ivoire stalemate

Laurent Gbagbo is the lawful president of Côte d’Ivoire and attempts to remove him are a “travesty of justice”, African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe said on Thursday.

“Our conclusion is that Gbagbo is lawful president of the country, his presidency is supported by the Constitution and the laws of the land,” he said in Johannesburg after a visit to the West African country.

During his visit, Meshoe and two other church leaders met Gbagbo, who related to them that he wanted a recount of the election results, but this had been denied.

Meshoe failed to meet Gbagbo’s rival and opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, despite attempts to secure an audience with him.

Ouattara, he said, was announced the winner of the country’s November 28 2010 election by one constitutional commissioner in the absence of the other 30.

Gbagbo has refused to step down as president after the election authority announced he lost the elections.

“A member of the electoral commission who also met with us told us that the announcement of the provisional results by their president in front of the French media was not only illegal and unlawful, but also took the other 30 members of the electoral commission by surprise.

“What happened in Côte d’Ivoire we believe is a travesty of justice. We are saddened by the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union that have endorsed this travesty of justice.”

Meshoe said he would seek to meet SA President Jacob Zuma to discuss the matter. He also did not rule out talks with the UN over his findings.

Pressure was mounting on Gbagbo to cede power, but the latest attempts at securing a peaceful resolution to the crisis by AU mediator Raila Odinga had reportedly failed.

Mediation fails
Meanwhile, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said African efforts to mediate the disputed poll had failed on Wednesday, and Gbagbo rejected him as mediator after Odinga warned he faced sanctions or force.

Gbagbo maintains control of the security forces, much of the cocoa sector and state institutions.

“Despite extensive discussions ... with Mr Laurent Gbagbo and President-elect Alassane Ouattara, that went very late into the night, I regret to announce that the breakthrough that was needed, did not materialise,” Odinga told reporters at the airport as he was about to leave.

He said concerned nations “might be forced to take other measures ... which would require additional punishing financial sanctions, and possibly the use of force”, against Gbagbo. - Reuters, Sapa

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