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Africa

African chiefs plan potential military action in Côte d'Ivoire

media The presidents of Cape Verde, Benin, and Sierra Leone meet with the UN … Reuters/Luc Gnago

West African defence chiefs planned Wednesday for a potential military intervention in Côte d’Ivoire after three regional heads of state sent by regional bloc Ecowas failed to convince incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara.

After the presidents of Sierra Leone, Benin and Cape Verde left talks with Gbagbo in Abidjan, it emerged that military chiefs from across the region had met in Nigeria to discuss strategies for a possible troop deployment.

A senior diplomat said the meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja was about "the military planning ... and the logistics" of any eventual operation.

Jibrin Ibrahim, Centre for Democracy and Development 29/12/2010 - by Billie O'Kadameri Listen

Nigeria's defence spokesman, Colonel Mohammed Yerimah, confirmed the meeting was underway but did not give details.

Presidents Boni Yayi of Benin, Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde went to Abidjan on Tuesday and are due to return there next week.

Jorge Borges, Cape Verde's foreign affairs secretary, had earlier said the focus of regional efforts was to find a diplomatic solution and that the leaders were “no longer talking of military intervention by Ecowas”.

Some analysts are optimistic about Ecowas's diplomatic power.

"I believe Ecowas has shown a very high capacity to address issues such as this," says Jibrin Ibrahim of the Centre for Democracy and Development. "Liberia and Sierra Leone both looked intractable if not impossible but at the end of the day it was the engagement of Ecowas that was able to lead towards the resolution and the restoration of democracy in both countries."

Both Gbagbo and Ouattara claim to have won Côte d’Ivoire’s 28 November election, but only Ouattara has been recognised as president by the international community.

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