Tuesday, January 11, 2011



Africa News

Jan 10, 2011, 22:11 GMT

Nairobi -

The seemingly unresolvable political crisis in Ivory Coast could prompt a rollback of democracy across the rest of Africa, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Monday.

Madagascar, Niger and Guinea have been hit by coups in recent years, while elections in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sudan in 2010 were marred by accusations irregularities and voter oppression.However, Odinga pointed to a swathe of upcoming elections on the continent - polls are due in Nigeria and Uganda, among many other nations - and warned the situation could worsen if defiant Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo cannot be forced from power.

'The messy situation and loss of faith in transfer of power through the ballot could lead to the return of military coups in Africa,' Odinga, who was appointed the African Union's envoy to Ivory Coast, said in a statement.

'The military will take power claiming that they are trying to restore order.'

Gbagbo is refusing to hand over power to his rival Alassane Ouattara - the man the world recognises as the rightful winner of November presidential polls.

More than 200 people have died in violence sparked by the dispute, according to the United Nations.

Odinga is one of many African leaders who have travelled to Ivory Coast in an attempt to talk Ggbabo into stepping down. Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo was the latest to fail to budge Gbagbo, leaving on Sunday after several meetings with the leader.

Odinga's spokesman said he would return to Ivory Coast this week, although the Kenyan premier said the African Union continues to oppose a power-sharing deal in Ivory Coast.

It was just such a deal that brought Odinga into office in 2008 following months of deadly violence sparked by disputed elections.

Gbagbo has resisted huge international pressure, including travel bans and asset freezes from the United States and Britain.

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has warned Gbagbo it could use force to oust him if he does not step down - a threat the president has brushed off.

He is using the military to cling to power and has erected a blockade around Abidjan's Golf Hotel, from where Ouattara is trying to run an alternative government.

November's elections were supposed to open a more positive chapter in Ivory Coast's history eight years after civil war split the West African nation into the mainly Muslim north, which backs Ouattara, and the Christian south, where Gbagbo holds sway.

Instead, the polls only highlighted north-south divisions after a Gbagbo ally on the constitutional council overturned electoral commission results proclaiming Ouattara the winner.