/ 21 January 2011

Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria president meet over crisis

Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan held talks on Friday with the prime minister of Côte d’Ivoire’s internationally recognised government after the latest attempt to mediate the crisis in Abidjan failed.

Guillaume Soro, the prime minister for Côte d’Ivoire’s Alassane Ouattara, held talks with Jonathan in Abuja, his latest stop on a tour of the region.

Nigeria’s president is the current chairman of West African bloc Ecowas, which has threatened to use force if Côte d’Ivoire strongman Laurent Gbagbo does not step down.

“The president, under the auspices of Ecowas, has been sending many envoys to Côte d’Ivoire to try and resolve the issue diplomatically so that there is no use of military power,” Nigerian junior foreign minister Salamatu Suleiman told reporters after the meeting.

“But as it appears, that remains the only option. But the president and the entire members of the Ecowas authority of heads of state and government are still trying to explore dialogue as the best way forward in settling this outstanding crisis.”

Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia and Ecowas commission president James Victor Gbeho also took part in the meeting.

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has demanded Gbagbo step down in favour of Ouattara, the globally recognised winner of November elections.

The whole world is speaking with the same voice
Soro, a former rebel leader, has been on a tour of countries in the region and is expected in Bamako on Saturday for a summit of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

Finance ministers from the monetary union said last month that only Ouattara’s camp should be allowed to access funds from the Central Bank of West African States.

The latest African Union bid to mediate the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire by Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga failed this week, with Gbagbo refusing to yield power despite global calls for him to step down.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, who has previously acted as mediator in Côte d’Ivoire, met with French and British officials on January 18 and January 19, Suleiman said.

“Another delegation will go to the other various regions of the world, and I can tell you that the entire world on this matter are speaking with one voice,” she said. — Sapa-AFP