Raila Odinga no longer welcomed in Ivory Coast – Gbagbo’s minister

Ivory Coast incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has rejected Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga as a mediator in the country’s political crisis.

Mr. Gbagbo’s foreign minister said Wednesday that Mr. Odinga, the African Union’s official mediator for the impasse, has sided with Mr. Gbagbo’s presidential rival, Alassane Ouattara.

The minister said the Gbagbo government is “no longer prepared to receive” the Kenyan prime minister.

Mr. Odinga left Abidjan earlier Wednesday, after holding separate talks with Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Ouattara, who most countries recognize as the winner of November’s presidential election.

Mr. Odinga said there had been no breakthrough in the talks. He appeared to blame Mr. Gbagbo for the lack of progress, saying he broke a promise to lift the blockade around the hotel serving as Mr. Ouattara’s temporary headquarters.

Mr. Odinga also warned that “time is running out” for the crisis to be resolved peacefully. The West African bloc ECOWAS has threatened to remove Mr. Gbagbo by force if he does not give up power.

At the United Nations Wednesday, the 15-nation Security Council voted unanimously to send 2,000 more peacekeepers to Ivory Coast. The addition would increase the size of the peacekeeping force to 12,000.

Mr. Gbagbo has called for the withdrawal of all United Nations peacekeepers from the country. Last week, pro-Gbagbo mobs attacked and burned several U.N. vehicles.

On Wednesday, Mr. Odinga said Mr. Gbagbo’s chances of an amnesty will decline if Gbagbo supporters continue to commit crimes against civilians and peacekeepers.

U.N. peacekeepers are protecting the hotel where Mr. Ouattara has been holed up for more than a month. voa

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