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Power sharing unacceptable says Gbagbo

ABIDJAN, Mar 10 – Power sharing in Ivory Coast as proposed by an African Union mediation panel in Addis Ababa is "unacceptable", a spokesman for incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo said here Thursday.

Commenting on the AU talks on Ivory Coast in the Ethiopian capital, Ahoua Don Mello said here: "What is on offer is power sharing and the very principle of it is unacceptable."

Gbagbo, who did not travel to Addis Ababa, has refused to give up power to his rival Alassane Ouattara who is recognised by the international community, including the AU, as the winner of the November 28 presidential poll.

But speaking from the Ethiopian capital, Ouattara said the issue had been settled and the AU "confirms my election".

Gbagbo aides who attend the AU meeting in Addis Ababa meanwhile rejected so-called "binding" proposals put forward by the AU-mandated mediation panel made up of five African presidents.

The panel\’s blueprint to end the bloody leadership crisis in Ivory Coast has not been made public, but it was dismissed out of hand by the Gbagbo delegation sent to Addis Ababa.

"We think this is an unacceptable proposal," said former prime minister Pascal Affi N\’Guessan, who chairs Gbagbo\’s Ivorian Popular Front and was part of the team.

The AU mediation 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 power sharing, Mello recalled that this was tried from 2002 to 2010 but did not work.

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Ivory Coast has remained divided since a foiled 2002 coup against Gbagbo, with the former rebels holding the north, while pro-Gbagbo forces retains control of the south.

"We have proposed a vote recount. This has been accepted elsewhere, so why not here. We maintain our position," Mello said.

The United Nations has already made clear that a vote recounts is not possible as the ballots have not been kept.

In New York, UN chief Ban Ki-moon meanwhile said Thursday that the UN mission in Ivory Coast would keep flying and "protect its assets" despite a ban on overflights and landings imposed by strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

Gbagbo imposed the ban on UN and French forces late Wednesday after Ouattara left the country for the AU mediation summit.

Ban "deplores this latest attempt to disrupt the operations of the United Nations operation" in Ivory Coast, UNOCI, said his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

He "warns all parties that any attempt to disrupt flights conducted by the impartial forces is unacceptable".

"UNOCI will maintain its flight operations and take all necessary measures, as directed by unanimous Security Council resolutions, to protect its assets and fulfil its mandate, particularly with regards to protection of civilians," Ban said in the statement.

France has also dismissed the ban on flights by its military force in Ivory Coast.

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Gbagbo\’s spokesman threatened "sanctions" against the UN mission and the French forces backing it over their refusal to heed the ban on overflights and landings.


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