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South Africa's now-neutral stance on Ivory Coast infuriates president-elect's camp

South African President Jacob Zuma is set to go to Ivory Coast this weekend in a bid to negotiate a powersharing agreement that will pull the country back from the brink of another civil war.

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South Africa announced today that President Jacob Zuma will leave this weekend to help negotiate an end to the political crisis that has threatened for weeks to pull the West African nation of Ivory Coast back to civil war.

South Africa also announced that it is now neutral in the Ivory Coast dispute – a remarkable pullback from its initial congratulation of Ivorian President-elect Alassane Ouattara’s Nov. 28 runoff victory, which has yet to be recognized by renegade incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.

That shift has infuriated Mr. Outtara's internationally recognized administration, which has had to operate from a hotel guarded by United Nations peacekeepers while Mr. Gbagbo clings to power in the presidential palace.

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Mr. Zuma says that he has been invited by both sides to mediate as part of a high-level African Union team, but Ouattara’s appointed prime minister, Guillaume Soro, said today that the South African mediation process is neither welcome nor necessary.


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