Odinga briefs AU chief, headed back to Abidjan

January 12, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Wednesday evening held discussions with the African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping.

During the two-hour meeting, the PM reassured Mr Ping that he intended to stay the course in Ivory Coast and said he planned to return the West African country at the weekend.

Mr Ping said AU was grateful that Mr Odinga agreed to take up the task in Ivory Coast and wished him success.

The two leaders agreed that the Ivory Coast was a tough assignment but the PM said he would give it his best effort.

He reiterated that force should be last option in dealing with the problem.

At the same time, he said he did not think power sharing would work in Ivory Coast saying each of the rivals was determined to be president.

He also ruled out a vote recount, saying the atmosphere was already tense and whatever the results of the recount, they would remain disputed.

Mr Ping said he viewed Mr Odinga\’s appointment to the lead the AU mission in Ivory Coast as an honour to Kenya. He said they are also confident that so far, the PM is on the right track.

He explained that the AU Secretariat consulted widely and toyed with several names before settling on Mr Odinga.

The decision to appoint Mr Odinga, he said, was not personal but was reached at by a panel of various personalities who also consulted widely.

"It was a long process with many names being floated. There were refusals and questions but in the end, they agreed on one person and that person happened to be Mr Odinga."

Mr Ping said there was agreement that Mr Odinga would be "a credible voice" on the Ivory Coast issue and said the AU was happy with the progress made at the PM\’s initial mission to Ivory Coast.

He said the AU was adopting a policy of defending democracy and was working on mechanisms to reward leaders who preside successfully over their nations and who manage successful and democratic transfer of power.

The two leaders also discussed the changing circumstances in Ivory Coast since the PM\’s last mission there.

They expressed disappointment that Mr Laurent Gbagbo had gone back on his pledge to remove the blockade imposed around the hotel where his challenger Alassane Ouattara stays.

They also agreed that things are changing fast in the country and that another mission needs to go to Ivory Coast soon.


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