Zuma back in SA

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma is back in the country after attending African Union meetings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Zuma attended meetings of the AU High Level Panel, as well as the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), which looked at resolving the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire.

Zuma, who is part of the AU's panel looking at the worsening political situation in Ivory Coast, was joined by other heads of states such as Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno, Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaore and Tanzania's Jikaya Kikwete.

The presidents presented their report to the AU PSC on work they have been doing to attempt to resolve the Cote d'Ivoire impasse. 

Ivory Coast 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.

However, the AU handed a resounding victory to Ouattara on Thursday in a decision reaffirming him as the legal president of Ivory Coast and saying the country's highest court must swear him in, officials said.

The decision, adopted by the African Union's Peace and Security Council, calls on Gbagbo to leave office and is a diplomatic victory for Ouattara.

The AU communiqu, "reaffirms the victory of Mr. Alassane Dramane Ouattara in the election of November 28, 2010" and that "Mr. Laurent Gbagbo must leave in the superior interest of the Ivorian people, and to safeguard peace."

According to the communiqu,, a high representative will be appointed to oversee the implementation of the overall political solution. The special representative is expected to start negotiating with all the parties within two weeks.

Ouattara has been recognised by governments around the world as the country's legitimate president, but has been unable to assume office because Gbagbo is refusing to leave the presidential palace.

The election standoff has degenerated into bloody street battles and Ivory Coast stands on the brink of civil war, with the pro-Gbagbo army accused of gunning down hundreds of civilians who voted for Ouattara.

While reiterating its condemnation of all atrocities and other violations of human rights, the council called on Ivory Coast's constitutional council to swear in Ouattara as president.

The leaders also reaffirmed their conviction that the post electoral crisis in C"te d'Ivoire requires an overall political solution that preserves democracy and peace, and promotes lasting reconciliation among all Ivorians.