28 Dec 2010

African leaders head for Ivory Coast

10:01 pm on 28 December 2010

A delegation of three West African presidents is on its way to Ivory Coast to try to convince Laurent Gbagbo to leave the presidential palace.

The delegation are the heads of state from Benin, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde.

They will deliver the message that if he doesn't cede power to Alassane Ouattara, the man who is widely accepted to have won the election, the West African grouping Ecowas could use force to make him leave.

Mr Ouattara is recognised internationally as the victor of the poll held on 28 November. The election was meant to unite the country after a civil war in 2002.

The United Nations, the European Union, the United States, the African Union and Ecowas all say that Mr Ouattara won the election.

Meanwhile, the African Union has appointed Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga to lead its efforts to resolve the crisis. He said his role would be to plead with Mr Gbagbo to accept the will of the people.

But Mr Gbagbo, who has accused the US and France of leading a plot against him, insists he is legally president.