Cote d’Ivoire's Gbagbo rejects mediator Raila

Thursday January 20 2011

Sia Kambou | AFP Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) hugs embattled Cote d’Ivoire leader Laurent Gbagbo before their meeting at the presidential palace in Abidjan on on January 4, 2011.

Sia Kambou | AFP Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) hugs embattled Cote d’Ivoire leader Laurent Gbagbo before their meeting at the presidential palace in Abidjan on on January 4, 2011.  

By HONORE KOUA in Abidjan

Laurent Gbagbo has rejected Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga as mediator in Cote d’Ivoire crisis.

Mr Gbagbo, who is defying calls to step down from power and allow his rival Alassane Ouattara to rule, accused the mediator of bias only hours after the Kenyan leader blamed him of stalling peace talks.

The international community has widely recognised Mr Ouattara as the legitimate winner of Cote d’Ivoire's presidential elections, but Mr Gbagbo has rejected the results.

President Gbagbo said the mediator appointed by the African Union was supporting his rival.

Mr Gbagbo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alcide Djédjé told at a Press conference on Wednesday that Mr Odinga “has failed in his mission and we are no longer ready to receive him here”.

Mr Djédjé explained that during his talks with Mr Gbagbo on Tuesday, the Kenyan Prime Minister asked for the lifting of military blockade around hotel sheltering opposition camp.

According to him, contrary to what the mediator told journalists before leaving on Wednesday, Mr Gbagbo did not make any promise on the issue. He rather recalled that he already sent a letter to President of AU Commission telling him that he is keeping the obstruction because of fear for violence from “heavily armed rebels” who are inside the resort.

Mr Djédjé said Prime Minister Odinga told them he would give a feedback from his meeting with Mr Alassane Ouattara but “against all odds, the appointment was not honoured until the departure of Mr Odinga on Wednesday morning”.

Another Mediator

Gbagbo’s minister said they were still open to discuss with another AU mediator on “substantive issues facing Côte d'Ivoire” as Mr Odinga showed he is biased in his latest declaration in Abidjan.

Earlier, the AU emissary put an end to his visit after 48-hours even though he had been expected to stay in Abidjan for a week. Mr Odinga told journalists at Abidjan’s airport that the embattled Ivorian president had reneged for the second time on his promise to lift the blockade on Mr Ouattara's hotel.

Meanwhile, a general strike called by Mr Ouattara's wing that started on Tuesday continued to be low key but incidents left at least one dead and dozens wounded in Abidjan.

According to eye witnesses, a man was killed and another injured Tuesday when forces loyal to Gbagbo shot to disperse youths holding barricades in Adjamé a pro-Ouattara district. Newspapers reported at least two more dead in other areas - Abobo and Attécoubé - which are Ouattara strongholds.

In New York, UN Security Council reinforced its mission to Côte d’Ivoire with the immediate deployment of an additional 2,000 troops and three armed helicopters to the 9,000-strong peacekeeping operation.