Raila warns Gbagbo options running out

January 19, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Wednesday concluded his second visit to Ivory Coast with a warning that military intervention could be the only option left in resolving the political impasse that has gripped the nation.

The PM, who is the African Union (AU) envoy for the West African country, however said he remained hopeful that the standoff would be determined to avoid the alternative path.

He further argued that Ivorians should not contemplate a military intervention as it would lead to more economic and financial sanctions.

"Despite extensive discussions on Monday 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," he said. 

In addition, a statement sent to newsrooms late Wednesday said that the PM had secured Ghana\’s support to overthrow Gbagbo, but only as a last resort.

According to the brief, Ghana\’s President John Atta Mills made the remarks to Mr Odinga, in Accra, where he also indicated that his country would support the position taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Mr Odinga who also expressed concern over the rising tensions in the country added that he would go back to Ivory Coast for a third visit if the situation warranted it.

"With internal tensions and hardships already mounting and bound to escalate amid the destabilizing uncertainty about the future, time is running out for an amicably negotiated settlement," he noted.

He also maintained his calls to Mr Gbagbo – who has refused to step down – to accept the amnesty offer given to him.

The Premier explained that the window of opportunity presented to the incumbent continued closing with the increasing anxieties that have seen crimes committed against civilians and peacekeepers.

"Mr Gbagbo must know that his actions may compel the friends of Cote d\’Ivoire to resort to a different set of measures in support of democracy, security and stability in the country," he said.

He also accused Mr Gbagbo of frustrating efforts to end the standoff saying he had not been keeping his word.

"One of the principal goals of my mission was to convince Mr Gbagbo to accept that he needed to put his presidency on the agenda of the discussions. In addition, it was imperative that the blockade of the Golf Hotel be lifted," he said. 

"Mr Gbagbo gave me an assurance that this blockade would be lifted yesterday, but he broke that promise – for the second time in two weeks," he added.  

Mr Odinga further asked other African states to stand by the principles of the AU as well as those of the ECOWAS in ensuring that peace and order prevailed in West African state. 

While noting that 17 presidential elections would be held across Africa this year, Mr Odinga asked the continent\’s political candidates to accept the outcome of democratic electoral processes in order to promote good governance.

"The refusal to respect the will of the Ivoirians as expressed in the November elections will deal a severe blow to the wave of democracy that is sweeping Africa. The resulting disillusionment will risk the spread of instability and insecurity on the continent," he argued.   

The PM was also scheduled to visit Mali and Burkina Faso on Wednesday where he was expected to hold more talks with the countries\’ leaders on the Ivorian situation. On Thursday he will go to Angola before flying down to South Africa on the same mission.

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