Published on January 26, 2011 by Cocorioko News · No Comments
By Wilfred Kabs-Kanu
The Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS ) has not given up on the process of peaceful negotiations to end the Ivory Coast impasse, Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma told Cocorioko this evening. The President, who is heading an ECOWAS delegation to the United States to brief the U.S. Government on the status of the negotiations, said that the subregional group still has hopes that the crisis will be resolved through peaceful negotiations. “We have not given up on the peace option and we have not declared war on the Ivory Coast, ” he stated emphatically. President Koroma is one of three West African heads of state chosen by ECOWAS to lead efforts for a negotiated settlement of the Ivory Coast impasse, the others being Benin’s Boni Yayi and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde .
President Koroma arrived in Washington DC yesterday at the head of a team nominated by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the ECOWAS chairman to brief the U.S Government about the negotiations. The delegation includes the President of ECOWAS Commission Victor Gbeho , Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Odein Ajumogobia and the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Ade Adefuye . President Koroma told this paper that they are here to get the U.S. and the UN involved in the negotiations.
The assurance by President Koroma that ECOWAS has still not given up on the peaceful negotiations option will bring a huge sigh of relief to many people in West Africa who still want all peaceful avenues to be exhausted first . While they know that a military offensive to remove ex-President Laurent Gbagbo , who refused to leave after being defeated in the Ivorian Presidential Elections ,is the logical option left if the former President continues to defy local and international pressures to quit, they are wary of the devastating toll the exercise may have on the lives of thousands of innocent people caught in the imbroglio. There are also fears of a prolonged conflict that may create a humanitarian nightmare and spill over to neighbouring countries. Already, Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Ghana’s Head of State , Mr. Atta Mills, have spoken against the military option , indicating that they might not contribute troops to any force designed to invade the Ivory Coast while the Ugandan President, Mr. Yoweri Musoveni, has proposed to the African Union ( AU ) that the Ivorian Presidential Elections be fully investigated first.
On national matters, President Koroma told COCORIOKO that his government was determined to maintain the tempo of the socio-economic and political developments it has initiated in the country. It must be recalled that President Koroma has declared 2011 a year of implementation and progress. During his New Year Day Address to the nation while launching Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations, President Koroma said that this will be a year of implementation of government projects.
TO BE CONTINUED