Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, chair of the Mano River Union (MRU) organization, has declared that the Union fully supports the decision of ECOWAS on the crisis in Ivory Coast, but has rejected military intervention as an option.
The MRU is a sub regional basin of West Africa that seeks to promote peace, security, free movement of people and trade among Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast, while ECOWAS is mother-body of all 15 states making up West Africa.
A November 28 2010 presidential run-off election conducted between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and opposition leader Alassane Ouattara has plunged Ivory Coast into serious crisis, causing more than 200 deaths and over 50,000 refugees.
Both Gbagbo and Quattara have claimed the presidency after the electoral commission declared the later winners, but the Constitutional court overturned the results in favor of Gbagbo.
The two men were separately inaugurated as President and the impasse has left the country with two governments, each with its own group of cabinet ministers, appointed simultaneously.
The current political standoff between Gbagbo and Quattara has placed La Cote d’Ivoire at the brink of a full scale civil war.
The United Nations, ECOWAS, EU, AU, and other multilateral institutions as well as the governments of France, USA, and other western countries are all backing the results released by the Electoral Commission which announced Quattara as the winner of the election; and are calling on Gbagbo to relinquish state power.
He has vehemently refused to step down, prompting ECOWAS to threaten military force to end the crisis after several failed diplomatic intervention.
But President Sirleaf, speaking Monday at the opening an Extraordinary Ministerial Council Meeting on Peace and Security, said military intervention would not be the appropriate option in finding a lasting solution to the escalating internal strife in Ivory Coast.
The Liberian leader said using force in Ivory Coast would have a detrimental spillover effect on neighboring countries including Liberia, already playing host to some 30,000 Ivorian refugees.
This is the MRU and President Sirleaf’s first official statement on the Ivorian crisis, besides cautioning Liberians to pray for their neighbors and not to get involved in the crisis.
Ghanaian President John Atta Mills two weeks ago denounced military intervention by ECOWAS in Ivory Coast. He said Ghana would not support the cause because there were over one million Ghanaians in that West African state. He has been widely criticized.
President Sirleaf said the situation in Ivory Coast was threatening to the MRU basin and the West African sub region in general and called for appropriate actions in solving the impasse.
President Sirleaf said while the international community tries to find an amicable solution to the crisis, it must be mindful of the decision derived, looking at what has happened in Liberia in the 90s.
The Liberian leader called for the protection of lives of Liberians and people in the region, before admonishing the MRU ministerial council to hold fruitful discussion and peace and security of the basin.
She reminded them that n o decision other than ECOWAS’ would be appropriate, but should come up with decision just “in case of any eventuality.”