AU panel on Ivory Coast meets in Mauritania

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has joined other members of the African Union High-Level Panel on Ivory Coast, as well as representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a meeting in Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott.

The meeting will look at some proposals that are on the table in relation to resolving the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire through dialogue.

Zuma joins Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno, Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaore and Tanzania's Jikaya Kikwete, who are tasked by the AU to deal with the dragging dispute. 

The country remains deadlocked after both incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Ouattara claimed victory in the November 2010 presidential election, and thereafter both formed their own governments.

Ivory Coast's constitutional council named Gbagbo the winner of the election, overturning results that showed Ouattara as the victor. Both leaders refuse to back down.

Gbagbo retains control of state institutions, including the army. Ouattara has spent more than two months in an Abidjan hotel, protected by UN peacekeepers.

UN officials say fighting in that country has killed at least 300, while another 200 000 have fled their homes.

The crisis has deteriorated, with many fearing a comeback of civil war which divided the West African country following an attempted coup against Gbagbo in 2002. - BuaNews-Xinhua