7 March 2011
An African Union panel comprising five heads of state, including South African President Jacob Zuma, has called for an immediate end to violence in Cote d’Ivoire and the lifting of the blockade on the hotel where Alassane Ouattara has been holed up since the disputed 28 November run-off election.
Meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania over the weekend, the five presidents – Zuma, Mohamed Ould Abdul Aziz of Mauritania, Idriss Deby of Chad, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania – called for an end to the escalation of violence in the West African country.
In a communique issued after their meeting, the High Level African Union Panel for the Resolution of the Crisis in Cote d’Ivoire expressed shock at what they termed a tragic evolution of the situation in Cote d’Ivoire.
The panel reiterated the AU’s urgent appeal to the Ivorian parties to show restraint, and refrain from acts likely to undermine the efforts to end the crisis.
The panel called for an immediate end to killings and abuses, as well as demonstrations, marches and other activities likely to degenerate into violence.
It urged the parties to cease all forms of hostilities, and to lift the blockade of the Golf Hotel, where Alassane Ouattara has been holed up since the 28 November run-off election.
Political rivals Laurent Gbagbo and Ouattara have been at loggerheads since the disputed second-round presidential election, bringing the country to a political standstill.
Both the United Nations and the African Union have since come out in support of Outtara, who is widely believed to have won the poll. Gbagbo is still clinging to power, however, and maintains control of the country’s army, a number of its state bodies and much of its cocoa sector.
The post-election stalemate has so far left hundreds of people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes.