Thursday, February 17, 2011

South Africa Seeks Political Solution to Ivorian Crisis

SA changes stance on Ivory Coast vote

February 17 2011 , 4:10:00

South Africa believes that dwelling on the 'inconclusive' elections in Ivory Coast will not help in negotiating an end to the political crisis in that country, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane said today.

"I thought it was not our business to drag them backward but to help them forward," Nkoane-Mashabane told a media briefing in Cape Town.

Without explicitly rescinding South Africa's earlier endorsement of Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the presidential vote and call on Laurent Gbagbo to relinquish power, she said: "We have no favourite."

The minister confirmed that South Africa's President Jacob Zuma will in coming days lead a five-man African Union (AU) delegation to the Ivory Coast for talks, after first holding consultations in Mauritania.

President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz of Mauritania heads the panel of leaders designated by the AU to deal with the crisis. They are expected to arrive in the Ivory Coast on Monday.

Minister Nkoane-Mashabane said Pretoria's neutral stance was informed by the fact that supporters of both Ouattara and Gbagbo had asked South Africa to negotiate an end to the stalemate that has raised fears of renewed civil war in the Ivory Coast.

South Africa endorsed Ouattara's victory after the United Nations. The European Union and the AU recognised that the former prime minister had won the vote.

Ms Nkoane-Mashabane said the initial information received by the AU gave it cause to endorse the Ouattara's victory, but the pan-African body had the "prerogative" to review its decisions at a later date. – Sapa

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