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Ouattara rejects African Union envoy in Ivory Coast political standoff

By the CNN Wire Staff
Ivory Coast's internationally recognised leader Alassane Ouattara (right) and PM Guillaume Soro are pictured together in January.
Ivory Coast's internationally recognised leader Alassane Ouattara (right) and PM Guillaume Soro are pictured together in January.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • African Union officials name the ex-foreign minister of Cape Verde as a mediator
  • Ouattara says the AU choice has "personal connections" with the disputed president
  • Ouattara says he was not consulted before the decision
  • Ivory Coast is mired in a political stalemate as the incumbent refuses to cede power
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Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNN) -- The internationally recognized president of Ivory Coast said he rejects the latest African Union envoy selected to help resolve the nation's tense political standoff.

The African Union on Saturday chose the ex-foreign minister of Cape Verde to help implement proposed solutions to the stalemate, which began when incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after November elections.

Election officials and the international community consider Alassane Ouattara the rightful winner of the vote.

The choice of Jose Brito was a surprise, Ouattara said in a statement, "given his (Brito's) personal and his political connections" with the disputed president.

Ouattara said he was not consulted before the decision was made on Saturday.

"Furthermore, this decision does not conform to the wishes expressed to appoint a former head of state for this function," he said.

"Consequently, the Presidency of the Republic of Ivory Coast rejects Jose Brito as high representative of the A.U."

African Union officials did not answer repeated calls for comment. Someone who answered the phone at Gbagbo's communications office declined to comment.

The African Union is made up of more than 50 countries in the continent. The organization has made several attempts at mediating the standoff, including sending heads of state to meet with both leaders.

A team of African heads of state came up with suggested resolutions for the crisis, said Patrick Achi, a spokesman for Ouattara.

Ouattara has support from many world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, who has said he recognizes him as the nation's rightful leader.

Obama warned on Friday that Gbagbo's hold on power will lead to more violence and bloodshed.

Clashes have left at least 462 dead since December, according to the United Nations.

Escalated violence and fears of war have forced nearly 1 million residents to flee the commercial capital of Abidjan, the U.N. refugee agency said, with scores more uprooted across the country.

As clashes rage on, analysts fear the country -- once one of Africa's success stories -- is on the brink of a civil war. A 2002 civil war plunged it into political instability.

"You have a proud past from gaining your independence to overcoming civil war, now you have the opportunity to realize your future," Obama said.

Ivorians deserve leaders who can restore their rightful place in the world, the U.S. president said.

Obama's message comes after the U.N. Security Council discussed a draft resolution introduced by France and Nigeria on a weapons ban in Abidjan. It also calls for sanctions against Gbagbo and his inner circle.

CNN's Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

 
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