Ouattara offers unity govt if Gbagbo steps down
By Tim Cocks
ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara would form a unity government with members of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo's party, as long as Gbagbo steps down first, the country's ambassador to the United Nations said.
World powers and African states have heaped pressure on Gbagbo to cede the presidency to Ouattara after the provisional results of a November 28 election showed Ouattara won with an 8 percentage point margin.
Gbagbo "has followers, he has competent people in his party. Those people, we are prepared to work with them in the framework of a wide composite cabinet," said Ivory Coast's U.N. envoy Youssoufou Bamba in an interview with the BBC's HARDtalk television news program.
But he said the formation of a unity government was only possible if Gbagbo stepped down first.
"What I am saying is Mr. Ouattara should be recognised by Mr. Gbagbo that he is the legitimate president," he said in the interview, a transcript of which was released by the BBC on Monday.
The proposal comes amid mounting pressure on Gbagbo, who has ruled the world's top cocoa producer since 2000, to leave power and end a standoff that has killed more than 200 people and threatens to rekindle a civil war.
West African regional bloc ECOWAS has threatened Gbagbo with force if he does not leave power, while the United States and the European Union have imposed travel bans on Gbagbo and his inner circle.
SANCTIONS CALL Continued...