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Raila returns to Abidjan for second round of peace talks

BUSINESS
By | January 18th 2011

By Martin Mutua and PMPS

Prime Minister Raila Odinga is in West Africa for another round of talks on the Ivory Coast post-election deadlock.

Raila, who is the African Union mediator, was last evening scheduled to meet the two presidential claimants Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara.

He met Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the Ecowas chairman at State House in Abuja on Sunday before flying to Abidjan for the mediation mission.

Raila said he would be making efforts to reach leaders of other African states, particularly Ghana, Liberia, Mali and South Africa over the Ivorian crisis.

During the meeting with Jonathan, the two leaders expressed confidence that a peaceful resolution would be found, the key to it being honouring the electoral will of the Ivorian people, and African leaders continuing to speak in one voice.

Lost elections

Ecowas and the African Union have asked Gbagbo to quit, saying he lost the lections.

Raila and Jonathan said the crisis posed a continuing threat to the country and region and that time was of the essence.

"The refusal to respect the will of the Ivorians as expressed in the November elections will deal a deadly blow to the wave of democracy sweeping Africa," the PM said.

Raila added: "The resulting disillusionment with the electoral process would risk the spread of instability and insecurity on the continent".

The two leaders said there were 17 presidential elections to be held in African this year hence the need to restore confidence in the electoral process.

"The continent must continue to speak in one voice if a greater crisis is to be averted," they added, saying international community was in support of the position taken by Ecowas and AU.

They said Ecowas and AU should remain resolute in pushing forth the agreed positions.

"The only way forward to a peaceful Ivory Coast lies in respecting the will of the people as expressed in the outcome of the November elections, which were certified as free and fair by the United Nations and other independent organisations," the leaders said.

During the meeting, Jonathan was accompanied by his Foreign minister Odein Ajumogobia, while the PM’s entourage included a former DRC Foreign minister Bizima Karaha, the PM’s Chief of Staff Caroli Omondi, media consultant Salim Lone and Kenya’s High Commissioner to Nigeria Francis Sigei. UN, the AU and Ecowas have come out openly to recognise Ouattara as the democratically elected president after he was announced winner by the country’s electoral committee.

Poll results

However, Gbagbo declined to relinquish power and moved to the constitutional court headed by one of his key allies, who ruled in his favour claiming votes had been tampered with in the north where Ouattara enjoys popular support.

The Prime Minister was the first African leader to call for military action in Ivorian case.

He told Gbagbo off for holding on to power when the Ivorian electoral body had declared the opposition candidate the winner.

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