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AU panel to finalise I. Coast crisis

NAIROBI, Mar 8 – The African Union panel on the Ivory Coast crisis will meet Wednesday to finalise recommendations aimed at ending the months-long turmoil in the west African country, an official said Tuesday.

The five-member heads of state panel formed in January was tasked to deliver binding resolutions on strongman Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara to end a protracted leadership wrangle after disputed November presidential polls.

Gbagbo has refused to give up power to Ouattara, who is internationally recognised as the winner of the November 28 vote.

"They will meet on Wednesday to finalise the positions they will present to the PSC," said Noureddine Mezni, the spokesman of the AU commission chief Jean Ping, referring to the bloc\’s Peace and Security Council.

The PSC will hold a meeting Thursday to which Gbagbo and Ouattara are invited. Ouattara has accepted the invitation but his rival is yet to respond.

The AU panel comprises Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, South Africa\’s Jacob Zuma, Idriss Deby Itno of Chad, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and Tanzania\’s Jakaya Kikwete.

On Friday, the presidents called for an end to the violence that flared up recently in Ivory Coast.

More than 300 people have been killed in the crisis since late 2010, according to the United Nations.

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