AU to form panel of heads of state to tackle Cote d'Ivoire crisis

12:33, January 29, 2011      

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Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga (L) flanked by AU Chairman, Jean Ping on January 28, 2010 arrives at the 16th ordinary session of the African Union, AU, in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Odinga, the African Union mediator in the Ivory Coast political crisis on Friday called for direct talks between presidential rivals Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara. (Xinhua/AFP)

The 53-nation African Union (AU) on Friday said it would form a panel of heads of state to tackle the post-election crisis in Cote d'Ivoire.

On the eve of the AU summit, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz unveiled the decision to form a five-member crisis panel.

The Mauritanian leader, who chairs the AU Peace and Security Council, said he would also head the panel in efforts to break the impasse since the Nov. 28 presidential run-off.

Despite high expectations, the election failed to end the division in the West African country since the 2002-2003 civil war. Both incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara claimed the presidency after the polls.

The AU, in line with the international community including the United Nations, sent twice a high-level mission to Cote d'Ivoire to persuade Gbagbo to cede power to Ouattara, who is widely recognized as the winner of the election.

Gbagbo has refuged to surrender power despite the AU's repeated efforts.

Source: Xinhua
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