Use of force last option, mediation still the best in Ivorian crisis – AU Commission

The African Union (AU) Commission stated in Addis Ababa that the use of force to compel President Laurent Gbagbo to concede defeat in the Ivorian presidential elections would be the last option.

Dr Jean Ping, Commission’s Chairperson, said apart from Sierra Leone, nowhere had legitimate force been used in resolving such stalemates.

The position of the Commission vindicates that of Ghana’s President John Evans Atta Mills that despite Ghana’s support for the ECOWAS intervention in the Ivorian crisis, military force would be the last option.

President Mills had stated that Ghana supported Mr Gbagbo’s main contender Mr Allasane Ouattara as the internationally acclaimed winner of the Ivorian presidential polls last November.

However, Ghana, which had about 500 troops serving under the United Nations in La Cote D’Ivoire, could no further contribute troops to that country because it was overstretched in terms of personnel and logistics.

Painting a gloomy picture, Dr Ping brought to the fore the negative repercussions of the use of military intervention to force incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to step down, warning of extreme fatalities should that occur.

Dr Ping stated the AU position at a press conference on the fringes of the 16th African Union Summit underway at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Some political analysts see the Chairperson’s statement as a mild move away from the earlier call to use military force to make Mr Gbagbo step down as President of La Cote d’Ivoire in favour of Mr Ouattara.

Others had said the position of President Mills had triggered the non military action that would save lives and avoid massive bloodshed.

Dr Ping called for the continued use of dialogue rather than force in addressing the Ivorian issue.

“I’m confident that we’ll succeed more with dialogue than the use of force,” he told the press, adding that there had never been any success when such force was applied, except in Sierra Leone.

Dr Ping recalled that about five million people died in Congo when such similar force was applied and queried if that should be repeated in the Ivorian situation.

He said both Foreign Ministers representing the governments of both Ouattara and Mr Gbagbo were present at the summit, but the Union did not officially recognise them.

Dr Ping condemned what he called the double standards of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its administration of justice, saying it had been discriminatory against the African cause.

He said the stance of the ICC on Kenya had not been the same as in Gaza, Iraq and Argentina.

While announcing a reinforcement of the military strength in Somalia, the AU Chairperson said the Union would soon create its court “to judge its own criminals.”

Meanwhile, President Mills is expected to deliver the keynote address on the theme; “Shared Values” at the summit which would officially open on Sunday.

The one week summit is on the theme; “Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values.”

On Saturday, the Heads of State and Government attended the Peer Review Meeting.

The African leaders had also held a meeting on the Somali crisis as well as the crisis in La Cote d’Ivoire.

Former President Jerry John Rawlings is attending the summit in the capacity as the AU Eminent person on Somalia.

Source: GNA

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