4 Jan 2011

Ultimatum being given to Ivory Coast incumbent

8:30 pm on 4 January 2011

Sierra Leone has made clear that a delegation of African leaders visiting Ivory Coast will call on Laurent Gbagbo to quit the presidency.

The group from the ECOWAS regional group says they do not intend to negotiate with him. On the first day of their mission they had talks with both Mr Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the man the international community says won the Ivorian presidential election.

The BBC reports they are expected to make an amnesty offer to Mr Gbagbo if he quits.

West African states have said they will remove him by force if he does not. The UN and the African Union regard Mr Gbagbo's rival, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the election on 28 November.

But Mr Gbagbo is adamant he will stay in power.

It is their second visit by Presidents Boni Yayi of Benin, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde. Last Tuesday they failed to convince Mr Gbagbo to stand down.

On Monday they were joined by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (representing the African Union), whose office said he would seek a peaceful settlement to the election crisis and an "assurance of safety and security for Mr Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters, if he agrees to cede power".

Sierra Leone Information Minister Ibrahim Ben-Kargbo said the group would tell Mr Gbagbo to step down and did not intend to negotiate with him.