African leaders in new talks on Ivory Coast crisis

Aid agencies warned of the deteriorating situation in Ivory Coast as five African leaders charged with resolving the presidential dispute prepared a fresh bid at mediation.

Last Updated: Mar 05, 2011, 10:06 AM IST

Abidjan: Aid agencies warned of
the deteriorating situation in Ivory Coast as five African
leaders charged with resolving the presidential dispute
prepared a fresh bid at mediation.

As the UN refugee organisation said violence had forced
it to halt plans for a camp for displaced people, Medecins
sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders, MSF) said doctors
had also been forced to flee the growing conflict.

MSF, in its statement, said one of its team in the
western Duekoue district had been forced to halt its work
Thursday for safety reasons, as fighting intensified there.

The situation in Abidjan had also deteriorated, it said.
MSF appealed to all sides to let the medical workers do
their work.

Earlier, Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, said Friday the violence had forced
it to suspend its activities in Ivory Coast.

Some 70,000 people had been displaced in the west, where
there have been heavy clashes around the towns of Duekoue and
Blolequin, she added.

"And we`re not operating there any more unfortunately due
to the fighting and the insecurity," Fleming told reporters in
Geneva.

Aid agency access was also being choked off in Abidjan,
where the number of displaced people has now reached 200,000,
she said.

In the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott meanwhile, five
African leaders charged with resolving the Ivory Coast
presidential dispute met yesterday ahead of a fresh bid to
mediate in the crisis.

They are trying to break a three-month stand-off between
Alassane Ouattara, who the international community says one
the presidential election -- and incumbent Laurent Gbagbo who
has refused to acknowledge defeat.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was joined
by presidents Jacob Zuma from South Africa, Idriss Deby Itno
from Chad, Blaise Compaore from Burkina Faso and Tanzania`s
Jakaya Kikwete.

"This meeting indicates our determination to explore all
the options making it possible to resolve in a peaceful and
consensual manner the crisis that threatens the survival, even
the existence, of Ivory Coast," said Aziz.

The panel was expected to fly to the main city in Ivory
Coast, Abidjan, directly after their meeting.

PTI