Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore, the mediator in Ivory Coast’s crisis, has publicly called on Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to quickly re-launch stalled election preparations.
Compaore issued the rare public appeal yesterday, days after Gbagbo dissolved both the government and the election commission in a move that is certain to delay a March poll and has sparked protests in the world’s top cocoa producer.
“(The facilitator would like) to encourage President Laurent Gbagbo to act quickly to re-launch the electoral process to preserve progress made so far and … and ensure it is completed,” Compaore said in a statement issued in Ouagadougou.
Compaore brokered a 2007 deal between Gbagbo, rebels still controlling the north of the country, and his civilian rivals, an accord seen as Ivory Coast’s best shot at peace and reunification since the civil war of 2002-2003 divided the nation in two.
The Burkinabe leader called on Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, who must now pick a new government, to ensure no one was excluded from the process. He also called on politicians, the media and the population to remain calm.
Compaore has previously sought to push the process along through discreet diplomacy but a bitter row over who should be allowed to vote has thrown plans for an election, long-delayed but loosely due to take place next month, into disarray.
Thousands of demonstrators blockaded parts of Ivory Coast yesterday, though there were no reports of widespread violence, or an immediate impact on the transport of cocoa to ports.
Frustration is growing at home and abroad at years of delays to a vote meant to restore peace to West Africa’s former economic hub, where many renewed investments and much-needed reforms of the cocoa sector are on hold.
Pic: President Blaise Compaore of Burkino Fasso