, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 2 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday morning left for Ivory Coast on a mission to broker peace following disputed presidential election results that have led to situation that threatens to plunge the country into violence.
The Prime Minister was appointed by the African Union to lead a team of negotiators to try to avert bloodshed and unrest in the country.
While addressing the press at JKIA before his departure, the Premier said that he will be working for a peaceful settlement of the crisis which currently threatens to expose fault lines that drew Ivory Coast into more than a decade of civil war that led to political and economic turmoil.
He said that he will be teaming up tomorrow with three Presidents in a joint mission between ECOWAS and AU with an aim to getting a lasting solution to the crisis.
“Mr Odinga left the country this morning for Abuja, Nigeria, where he will hold talks with Nigeria’s President, Mr President Goodluck Jonathan, who is also the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the situation in Ivory Coast," a statement from his office said.
"Tomorrow, Mr Odinga will join Presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde, who have been delegated by ECOWAS to travel to the Ivory Coast with a message from the bloc for incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.
The three presidents – Boni Yayi of Benin, Sierra Leone\’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde were in Abidjan last week to persuade Mr Gbagbo to agree to step down peacefully but did not succeed."
"I am carrying a peaceful message to the people of Ivory Coast," he said.
Mr Odinga said that as a member of the international community, Kenya had a duty to assist Ivory Coast realize lasting peace having benefitted from interventions of the international community when in a similar crisis earlier.
Mr Odinga will join them tomorrow on a joint ECOWAS-AU mission where he will be the voice of the African Union.
Mr Odinga described his as "a peace mission to protect democracy and the voice of the people of Ivory Coast. He said he feels for the Ivory Coast, which enjoyed admirable stability and steady economic growth in the years after independence until it exploded in chaos about thirty years later."
He said he will seek a peaceful settlement to the election crisis, put in measures to protects the human rights and dignity of civilians, look into the plight of displaced persons and seek an assurance of safety and security for Mr Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters, if he agrees to cede power.
Mr Odinga left Nairobi in the company of small team of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kenyan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Francis Sigei. He will work with an AU secretariat already in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.