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Gbagbo faces last-chance West African ultimatum

[ 2010-12-29 13:14]     字号 [] [] []  
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Cote d'Ivoire strongman Laurent Gbagbo faced a last-chance ultimatum Tuesday as three West African presidents jetted in to Abidjan to warn him to step down or risk military action.

The leaders of Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone have a message from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that he must cede power or the group may use force to resolve Cote d'Ivoire political crisis.

Presidents Bon Yayi of Benin and Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone arrived first, and were to be joined at Abidjan airport by Pedro Pires of Cape Verde before holding separate talks with Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara.

Speaking to reporters before he flew out of Cape Verde, Pires said there had so far been no real attempt to reach a lasting solution to the crisis.

Pires said: "For the time being I do not see any attempt towards resolving the conflict in a sustainable manner. Instead, I see that all approaches are aimed at satisfying immediate interests."

"I am very concerned because the perception I have is that Cote d'Ivoire is slipping towards a very complicated situation."

The three are not Gbagbo's fiercest critics within ECOWAS, but are armed with a resolution demanding he cede power to Ouattara, signed by more powerful figures such as the bloc's chairman, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan. There seems little chance of Gbagbo backing down, however, as he continues to insist he is the legally elected leader of Cote d'Ivoire and has warned that ECOWAS' threat of military action could plunge the region into war.

The visit comes the day after Gbagbo appeared to have seen off one challenge when a general strike call was slow to take effect, but suffered a setback when his Paris embassy fell to supporters of Ouattara. The embassy was closed "until further notice" on Tuesday.

Both Gbagbo and his long-time rival claim to have won last month's election, and both have had themselves declared president, but Ouattara has been recognized as the president by UN vote monitors and world powers.


(中国日报网英语点津 Julie 编辑)

Gbagbo faces last-chance West African ultimatum

About the broadcaster:

Gbagbo faces last-chance West African ultimatum

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.