The high-stakes political stalemate continues in Cote d'Ivoire, where the former president refuses to yield to his elected successor in the November 28 run-off election.
Four leaders representing the West African regional bloc ECOWAS and the African Union recently met with the former president, Laurent Gbagbo, to mediate the crisis and convince him to step aside. Despite the nation's electoral commission declaring former Prime Minister Allasne Ouattara the president-elect and Gbagbo's increasing international isolation, he has resisted all calls to cede power, and his promises to resolve the crisis remain hollow.
For now, the country has been spared widespread violence. An estimated 20,000 Ivoirians fled the country into neighboring Liberia following initial clashes that claimed more than 200 lives, but at present the struggle is being fought as a war of words. A threat by the leader of Gbagbo's youth cadre, the Young Patriots, to attack the Abidjan hotel serving as Ouattara headquarters over New Year's weekend was called off.
The United States is working closely with the international community to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and as the talks continue we call on Gbagbo to control his supporters and military forces still loyal to him. Along with the ECOWAS and African Union nations, we have taken steps to keep pressure on Gbagbo to end the standoff and step down, including travel sanctions against him and his close supporters.
Other steps such as targeted economic sanctions will be taken as well, until Gbagbo recognizes the will of his people and peacefully steps aside. His stubborn refusal to do so has prevented all Ivoirians from enjoying the peace, security and prosperity that the much-delayed election had promised to bring.