Obama calls newly-installed Ivory Coast President
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Last Updated: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 11:57
  
Washington: US President Barack Obama called his Ivory Coast counterpart Alassane Ouattara on Tuesday to congratulate him on taking power and called for justice for the victims of the bloody political crisis.

"President Obama called President Alassane Ouattara today to congratulate him on assuming his duties as the democratically elected president of Côte d'Ivoire," the White House said in a statement.

"President Obama offered support for President Ouattara's efforts to unite Côte d'Ivoire, restart the economy, restore security and reform the security forces."

Obama's call of endorsement came as democratically-elected Ouattara struggled to take full control of Ivory Coast, a day after his forces captured his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo, who had refused to cede power.

The White House said Obama and Ouattara reiterated the need to ensure that alleged atrocities during weeks of political turmoil were investigated and that those responsible -- on whatever side -- should be held accountable.

They also agreed to back any action by the United Nations or the International Criminal Court.

Obama welcomed Ouattara's commitment to provide security and said Washington would be a strong partner as the new leader seeks reunification and reconciliation and responds to the humanitarian situation.

The United States earlier revealed it had proposed late last year that Ivory Coast strongman Gbagbo should become a university lecturer in return for leaving power gracefully.

After the November 28 election, which Gbagbo was widely deemed to have lost, the "State Department did reach out to Mr Gbagbo's staff and contacts" to discuss his future, said spokesman Mark Toner.

Among the possible options discussed during the calls that lasted through the end of 2010 were "potential positions that would draw on his previous background in academia”, Toner told reporters.

"Visiting professor positions offered by universities to former leaders are contingent on the fact that these leaders are gracefully departed individuals who allow for a peaceful transition to democracy to take place.”

"And let's just say the train's left the station on that, and we had stopped talking about that a while back," he continued.

Toner did not confirm reports that Boston University had offered Gbagbo a position.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Gbagbo had stubbornly refused mediation offers and should have accepted a job as a lecturer at a US university.

Odinga, who was appointed in December as the African Union's envoy to the Ivorian crisis that erupted after the disputed November elections, said he had warned Gbagbo not to dig in his heels.

On Tuesday, Odinga met Vice President Joe Biden at the White House, and the two men held a photo opportunity before the cameras but made no public comments, and officials did not immediately provide details about the meeting.

Washington had said on Monday that Gbagbo's arrest sent a signal to the dictators of the world that they could not ignore the will of their people.

Bureau Report


First Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 11:57


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