West African Leaders Push Ivory Coast's Gbagbo to Leave
20K flee country as violent confrontation looms
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 28, 2010 1:55 PM CST
Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, left, welcomes Cape Verde President Pedro Pires, front right, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010.   (AP Photo/Emanuel Ekra)
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(Newser) – Last chance for a peaceful resolution? West African leaders met with Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo today to try to resolve the country’s post-election strife, the BBC reports. The heads of Benin, Sierra Leone, and Cape Verde met with Gbagbo, who has refused to step down despite international support for his opponent, President-elect Alassane Ouattara. A regional bloc has threatened to use force if Gbagbo refuses to budge.

“All went well” at the talks, said Benin's Boni Yayi, though it's unclear whether true progress was made. The leaders were expected to offer Gbagbo an exit route that wouldn't leave him humiliated. Almost 20,000—largely women and children, almost two-thirds of whom are younger than 18—have now fled the country for Liberia, fearing civil war, the UN says. Amid violence that has left at least 173 dead, the African Union yesterday appointed Kenya’s prime minister as a special Ivory Coast envoy.