Nigerian Leader Meets Quattara's Envoy, Gives Gbagbo Last Chance to Quit
By Williams Ekanem and Additional Reports
Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS chairman and Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan yesterday met with the Prime Minister appointed by Alhassane Ouattara, the globally recognized elected President of Cote d'Ivoire, Gullaune Soro, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on the crisis in the West African country.
Soro, who had earlier served under President Laurent Gbagbo for three years as Prime Minister until the November 28, 2010 election, came as the special envoy of Quattara.
At the meeting, President Jonathan reaffirmed the position taken ECOWAS and that of the international community that Ouattara won the Ivorian elections and that Gbagbo must cede power to him.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajia Salamatu Suleiman told the media after the meeting at the President's office that the use of force was still a viable option to restore normalcy in the cocoa-producing country.
She said: "As you know, the President under the auspices of ECOWAS, has been sending many envoys to Cote D' Ivoire to try and resolve the issue diplomatically so that there would be no use of military power. But as it appears, that (military force) remains an option.
"However, the President and the entire authority of Heads of States and government of ECOWAS are still trying to explore dialogue as the best way forward in settling this crisis. I can assure you that Mr. President, as Chairman of ECOWAS and indeed the entire ECOWAS are firmly on that.
"But they are aware of Gbagbo's tactics. They have given him the leeway, sent him many diplomatic missions to speak with him and if that fails, the option of military force is not ruled out."
Suleiman added: "Currently Mr. President as Chairman of ECOWAS is also liaising with the entire members of the international community. As you are aware, the United Nations (UN) is fully in support of the position taken by ECOWAS that Ouattara is the winner of Cote D Ivoire's elections and should be allowed to be put in power.
"The President has also sent a high-power mission led by Presidents of other countries that are members of ECOWAS. Mr. Blaise Compaore, the President of Burkina Faso met with the governments of United Kingdom and France on the 18 and 19th of this month and they are all supportive of ECOWAS position.
"Another delegation will go to the other regions of the world. And I can tell you that the entire world is speaking with one voice on this matter."