The presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire – African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA), Henri Konan Bedie, has promised to let political exiles, including former President Laurent Gbagbo, return home if he wins the elections in October.
Bedie, who served as president from 1993-1999 before being ousted in a coup, made the promise on Saturday after being formally inaugurated as the PDCI-RDA choice candidate in the election.
The 86-year-old said: “I commit to taking concrete and immediate measures for the return of all the exiles.”
“Once elected, I pledge to form a broad-based government,” he added.
The octogenarian also promised to reform the Ivorien police force.
“Let us be determined because victory in the election is within our grasp,” he said.
Bedie is considered President Alassane Ouattara’s main challenger in the Oct. 31 vote.
Ouattara is seeking a third term despite his opponents insisting he would be violating constitutional term limits.
Gbagbo was arrested at the end of a brief civil unrest sparked by his refusal to accept defeat to Ouattara in the 2010 election. He has faced trial for alleged crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
He was acquitted last year and supporters submitted paperwork on his behalf to stand in the election, but he has so far been unable to secure the right document to travel back to Ivory Coast from Belgium, where he currently resides.
Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar Agrees To Lift Oil Blockade
Self-styled Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), has said he would temporarily lift his blockade of the country’s oil production facilities.
Speaking on television, Haftar said that he has decided to allow the reopening of Libya’s oil ports “as per conditions and guarantees that ensure a fair distribution of wealth and spare it being plundered or used in terrorism financing.”
This the parliament in eastern Libya, which backed Haftar, resigned following protests in Benghazi and other cities over power cuts and deteriorating living conditions.
Ezzel-Deen al-Falih, a spokesman for the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), said Prime Minister Abdallah al-Thani tendered the government’s resignation to Speaker Aguila Saleh late on Sunday.
Haftar said Friday’s announcement about lifting the oil blockade followed an agreement with the UN-backed government in Tripoli under which oil revenues would be distributed fairly.
A government minister has said a committee would be set up to oversee the handling of the revenue.
But the national oil company says it won’t resume operations until Gen Haftar’s forces leave the production facilities.
His blockade – which began January – has starved the Libyan economy of billions of dollars of desperately needed export earnings.
Before the blockade, Libya was producing around 1.2 million barrels per day compared to just over 100,000 barrels per day, according to Reuters.
AU Backs Call For Mali Junta To Hand Over To Civilian
The African Union (AU) has backed calls by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that the military junta in Mali appoint civilians to lead the country’s 18-months transition.
The military had overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali on August 18 in a bloodless coup, prompting sanctions from the 15-member regional bloc.
ECOWAS has insisted that the Colonel Assimi Goita-led National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) return Mali to civilian rule. The bloc also demanded that a civilian be named as head of the transition government.
The junta is yet to heed ECOWAS demand despite a deadline expiring on Tuesday. Instead, the junta, which had earlier proposed a two-year transition plan, released a charter reducing the transition period to 18 months.
Now the AU has urged the military junta in Mali to quickly appoint civilian leaders to manage an 18-month transition towards elections.
The AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui called for a return to constitutional order.
The AU announced the day after the coup that it was suspending Mali “until restoration of constitutional order”, and it is unclear what additional leverage it has.
Mali’s military rulers met West African leaders this week but the soldiers who seized power appear reluctant to let a civilian lead the transition.
A spokesman for the junta, Colonel Ismael Wague, said after this week’s talks in Ghana that Mali could face a “total embargo” from ECOWAS if it does not quickly appoint civilian leaders.
The sanctions could bite in the poor country already facing a severe economic downturn as well as a simmering jihadist insurgency and chronic inter-ethnic violence.
Wague nevertheless made clear the junta would prefer the transition be run by the military, and claimed that was also the preference of the majority of Malians.
Libya Prime Minister’s Planned Resignation Upsets Turkey
The planned resignation of Libya’s internationally recognised Prime Minister has upset Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, an ally to Turkey, had on Wednesday announced his intention to step down from office next month end.
Speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan said a Turkish delegation will hold talks on the issue with the al-Sarraj-government in the coming weeks.
“A development like this, hearing such news, has been upsetting for us,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding: “with these meetings, God willing we will turn this issue towards the direction it needs to go.”
Sarraj is head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, while eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). His departure could lead to infighting among senior GNA figures.
The civil war has drawn in regional and international powers and Turkey supports the GNA, while the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia back the LNA.
Turkey helped the GNA turn back a 14-month LNA assault on Tripoli in June.
Sarraj’s had on August 21 announced a ceasefire in hostilities with the LNA.
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