Ivory Coast Needs Protests to End Vote Impasse, Premier Says

An African Union panel to resolve the political impasse in Ivory Coast won’t create terms acceptable to both candidates who claim victory in November’s presidential election, said Guillaume Soro, the prime minister in a government named by Alassane Ouattara.

The only way to resolve the crisis is for citizens of the divided country to organize protests similar to the 18 days of demonstrations that led to the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, Soro said in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, today.

Laurent Gbagbo, who was the incumbent candidate in the election, has refused to step down since the country’s electoral board and the international community recognized rival Ouattara as the winner of its Nov. 28 election.

Soro said the Forces Nouvelles, a rebel army that controls the country’s north, are “ready to help” bring down the government of Gbagbo, who has had his opponent’s administration barricaded within an Abidjan hotel while ignoring calls from the United Nations and the African Union to concede the vote.

“We will not be fighting independently,” Soro said, adding he had seen a survey that estimated 63 percent of government soldiers under Gbagbo had voted for Ouattara. “We will join with that 63 percent of the national army. We will organize one united army, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing,” he said.

Soro’s remarks followed comments by South African Foreign Affairs Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane that the results of the election were “inconclusive,” and that the South African government has “no favorite” in the power struggle.

The South African government isn’t in a position to lead the resolution of the Ivorian crisis, Soro said.

“The issue of Ivory Coast belongs to Ecowas,” he said, referring to the Economic Community of West African States.

More than 500 people, particularly Ouattara supporters, have died in post-election violence, Soro said.

If Gbagbo is allowed to benefit from the impasse, Ivory Coast will become an “oil stain” undermining the 17 elections that he said African countries will hold this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Drew Hinshaw in Dakar via the Accra newsroom at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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