Thabo Mbeki arrived in the Ivory Coast yesterday, in an attempt to break the political stalemate following the country’s disputed presidential election. The ex-South African president and African Union mediator met with both candidates, and told reporters that the conversation had been positive, according to the Wall Street Journal. The country’s borders, which have been closed since Thursday, were opened briefly to allow Mbeki to arrive. The military says it’s planning to fully reopen them today.
The country’s independent election commission has declared challenger Alassane Outtara the winner of the vote, but incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has refused to concede, sparking sometimes violent protests. Mbeki “has got that job of trying to persuade them to almost jump at the same time,” says one Oxford professor of African politics. “Given the history of broken promises and weak institutions, that’s going to be the thing that’s so hard to get.” (Read more Ivory Coast stories.)