Ivory Coast situation not improving

West African
mediators say that incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has reportedly agreed to
lift the siege on Alassane Ouattara’s temporary HQ in Abidjan.

But a BBC
reporter in Abidjan
says state TV failed to report the deal and the hotel remains surrounded.

The UN regards
Mr Ouattara as the winner of November elections but Mr Gbagbo has refused to
cede power.

The West
African regional body Ecowashas threatened to force him out, but is trying mediation
efforts first.

On Monday, it
sent the presidents of Benin,
Cape Verde and Sierra Leone to
negotiate Mr Gbagbo’s departure – their second attempt to do so in a week.

They came away
with was his apparent promise to lift the blockade around Mr Ouattara’s hotel,
which is protected by UN peacekeepers.

After a
debriefing meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja, the chairman of the Ecowas Commission,
James Victor Gbeho, said that Mr Gbagbo had also agreed to negotiate a
“peaceful end” to end the crisis without preconditions.

“On his
part, Mr Alassane Ouattara indicated his willingness to ensure a dignified exit
for Mr Gbagbo provided the latter accepted the outcome of the presidential
election as declared by the independent electoral commission and certified by
the United Nations,” he said.

The BBC’s John
James in Abidjan
says the security forces are still sealing off roads for several kilometres
leading to the Golf Hotel.