The Nation (Nairobi)

20 January 2011

Cote d'Ivoire: AU Summit to Decide Odinga's Next Role in Cote d'Ivoire

Photo: Monica Mark/IRIN
United Nation peacekeepers guard the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, from which

Addis Ababa — The Africa Union is hoping to make a breakthrough on the Cote d'Ivoire crisis during its upcoming AU summit at the end of this month.

United Nations Secretary General Ban- ki Moon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a host of African heads of states are expected at the meeting.

The African Union Peace and Security Council decided Thursday to discuss the Cote d'Ivoire crisis in the upcoming summit.

According to AU sources Ban-Ki Moon is scheduled to meet influential African leaders to discuss the crisis.

AU peace and Security Council commissioner Ramate Lamamran told reporters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that the peaceful effort to resolve the crisis is going in a right direction and a peaceful solution will be found soon.

Ambassador Lamamran said AU prefers to exhaust all peaceful ways to end the crisis, however, he hinted that a military option was on the table if talks fail.

Asked about the role of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is the AU mediator, Mr Lamamran said the summit will discuss the next role he would play.

Cote d'Ivoire incumbent President Laurant Gbagbo has asked AU to replace Mr Odinga as a mediator arguing that they did not want him.

Mr Gbagbo's Foreign Affairs minister Alcide Djedje announced that Mr Odinga was no longer wanted in the West African country.

Efforts by Mr Odinga to convince Mr Gbagbo and Mr Mr Alassane Ouattara to find a peaceful means to end the crisis has failed.

In the elections, Mr Ouattara was announced the winner but Mr Gbagbo refused to hand over power.

The United Nations, the European Union, the AU, the United States and other foreign countries recognise Mr Ouattara as the legitimate president.

According to the AU Security Council, Mr Odinga will prepare a report which the Summit shall consider before deciding his next role in the crisis.

"We felt that we should take the advantage of Mr Odinga's availability for this mission and that is why we asked him to mediate," Lamamran added.

He said AU recognised and appreciated the role of Mr Odinga played in his two round missions to Cote d'Ivoire but if the parties want to have another mediator, then his mediation effort will be assessed.

"This is not Mr Odinga's full time job and we know he is not a professional mediator and he is a Prime Minister of his country. He does not intend to work permanently."

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