ECOWAS explains absence at Cote d'Ivoire delegation

17:24, February 23, 2011      

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has said its delegation to the African Union (AU) high-level panel mission to Cote d'Ivoire was absent on security grounds.

A statement issued by the Commission on Tuesday in Abuja said a security threat was brought to the attention of the Panel on Feb. 20. The threat was specifically directed at the person of the facilitator by members of the "Jeunes Patriots" of Cote d'Ivoire who had begun demonstrations on the streets, the statement said.

"The absence of President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and Facilitator of the Direct Inter-Ivorian Dialogue; and James Victor Gbeho, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, from the delegation was due mainly to the security threat," it added.

"It was brought to the attention of the Panel in the evening of Feb. 20 while the panel was in consultation in Nouakchott, Mauritania," the commission said.

The regional body said though the threat was serious enough to compel the Facilitator to cancel his trip, other members of the panel decided to go ahead with the visit.

It also said the President of the Commission declined the invitation to join the delegation to Abidjan since the mob action was directed at ECOWAS.

"The ECOWAS Commission wishes to make it clear that it cannot accept that the situation in Abidjan was conducive for such a critical mission," the statement said.

"It will, therefore, evaluate the work to be accomplished by the remaining members of the panel at the appropriate time," it added.

"The commission calls on all parties concerned to respect the integrity of members of the panel and the will of the Ivorian people as expressed in the presidential run-off election and endorsed by ECOWAS and the AU," it said.

Source: Xinhua

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