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African Union backs Ouattara as president in Ivory Coast

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The AU’s decision is a relief to diplomats based in Africa because several AU members seemed to be deeply divided over whether to support Gbagbo or Ouattara. The African Union initially joined the UN, the European Union, and several independent election observer missions in declaring Ouattara the outright winner of the Nov. 28, 2010 elections, but members of the fact-finding mission, notably President Zuma, cast doubt on that election victory and said the results were “inconclusive,” calling instead for a power-sharing deal. Some political analysts say the delay in making a decision may have given Gbagbo time to arm himself and prolong the conflict.

“What the AU has done through prevarication, with their flip flopping, is to give Gbagbo time to dig in his heels and work toward a military resistance to this decision by the AU,” says Aubrey Matshiqi, a senior analyst at the Center for Policy Studies in Johannesburg. “This will cost lives on the ground.”

In its decision, made at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the AU accepted the recommended solution crafted by the panel of five African presidents, which included:

  • Requesting that Gbagbo withdraw and Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council swear in Ouattara
  • Recommending that Ouattara form a national unity and reconciliation government with other parties, including Gbagbo’s
  • Calling for the establishment of a Council of the Republic to promote national reconciliation
  • Calling for media to stop issuing ethnic or political hate messages
  • A lifting of the blockade of the Gulf Hotel, where Ouattara has resided under UN protection since November
  • Adoption of an amnesty law for all post-elections violence, exempting the president, prime minister, and senior military officers from prosecution
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