Gbagbo offers terms to lift siege
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Côte d'Ivoire's incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, said Wednesday he would lift a three-week siege on his presidential rival Alassane Ouattara if former rebels protecting Ouattara’s headquarters leave. Ouattara said earlier that military intervention does not mean the country will descend into civil war.
Gbagbo’s Security and Defence Forces have barred access to Ouattara’s headquarters at the Golf Hotel in Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital Abidjan for the last three weeks.
United Nations troops and New Forces soldiers have been protecting the hotel.
"He did not say he would lift the blockade on the Golf Hotel,” Gbagbo’s foreign minister Alcide Djedje said. “He said that he was ready to look at the conditions for lifting the blockade."
Ouattara said in an interview he preferred a peaceful solution to the crisis, but dismissed negotiating with incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.
He said Gbgabo was trying to buy time to recruit mercenaries to kill Ivorians and smuggle money out of the country.
The African Union’s mediator, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, said Wednesday that Gbagbo will be granted an amnesty if he steps aside peacefully. He said if Gbagbo decided to stay in Côte d'Ivoire, he would be allowed to go about his business normally.
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