, LAGOS, Jan 17 – Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the African Union mediator for Ivory Coast, will travel to Abidjan on Monday with a "new peace offer" for strongman Laurent Gbagbo, he told AFP.
Mr Odinga however declined to provide details on the offer to be presented on his second mediation bid to Ivory Coast since the country\’s crisis began following November presidential elections.
"In Abidjan, I will deliver (the) AU message to Gbagbo," he said about an hour before his planned departure from Abuja, where he met Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the current chairman of West African bloc ECOWAS.
"The mission is another trial to see if we can make a peaceful resolution to the crisis. We will see his reaction to the new peace offer we will make to him. We are hopeful to resolve the crisis."
The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened the use of force if Gbagbo does not step down in favour of his internationally recognised rival Alassane Ouattara.
It was unclear how long Odinga would remain in Ivory Coast, with his spokesman saying that would depend on what happened during the talks.
Mr Odinga said he would likely travel to other countries for consultations on the crisis after his visit to Ivory Coast, including Ghana, Angola, Burkina Faso and Kenya.
He did not say why those countries would be visited. Ghana, an ECOWAS member, has ruled out sending troops to Ivory Coast, while Angola has been one of the few countries to show support for Gbagbo.
Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore has previously served as mediator in Ivory Coast.
The Kenyan prime minister met Jonathan late Sunday as well as Monday morning ahead of the mission, though details of their talks were not immediately clear.
Mr Odinga\’s first trip to Abidjan since being appointed as mediator ended on January 5 with little tangible progress after Gbagbo failed to make good on promises that mediators said he made.
His previous mission also included the presidents of Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone — all ECOWAS countries.
An ECOWAS spokesman said they were not included in the latest trip because "the new mission is an AU initiative … the former mission was a joint AU-ECOWAS initiative."
Sunny Ugoh told AFP that an "ECOWAS (presidential) delegation is possible later. The composition is still being worked out."