ABUJA, February 27, 2011 (AFP) – Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore said Sunday a high-level African Union panel tasked with finding a solution to the leadership crisis in Ivory Coast would meet in Mauritania next week. ”Next week, we are going to convene a meeting in Mauritania to see what could be the conclusions of the panel and what the proposals for the way out of the crisis are,” said Compaore, who is also a key mediator for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the three-month-old impasse. ”So on Friday, March 4, the panel is going to be meeting in Mauritania and this time if the meeting is convened, I will be attending,” he told reporters in Abuja after briefing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on the panel’s latest mediation efforts.
Jonathan is the chairman of the 15-member regional economic grouping which has threatened to use force to oust strongman Laurent Gbagbo if he refuses to step down after losing the November presidential vote to his internationally recognised rival Alassane Ouattara. ”I came to brief the president of Nigeria on the outcome of the AU mission and also to know his feelings about the next steps regarding the work of the panel,” Compaore said. Compaore is a member of the AU panel but he did not join his four other colleagues — Presidents Idriss Deby Itno of Chad, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Jikaya Kikwete of Tanzania — when they travelled to Abidjan on Monday to present new proposals on the crisis. Compaore stayed away following threats from Gbagbo’s loyalists who accused him of backing Ouattara, recognised by most of the international community as the winner of the November poll. The post-election violence in Ivory Coast has claimed about 300 lives, according to United Nations’ figures.
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