United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today held several meetings in Ghana in preparation for the West African summit he will open tomorrow on re-starting the deadlocked Côte d'Ivoire peace process.
He held talks with the Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mohamed ibn Chambas, on the strategy for the summit, which the Secretary-General called an attempt to salvage the 2003 Linas-Marcoussis peace agreement between Côte d'Ivoire's government, opposition and rebel groups.
He met Ivorian Prime Minister Seydou Diarra, Ghanaian President John Kufuor, the summit co-host, and South African President Thabo Mbeki.
After his meeting with Mr. Kufuor, Mr. Annan told waiting journalists, "I'm hopeful that we will be able to build on the progress we made in Addis Ababa and help move the process forward. But it is extremely important that the leaders who are coming here put their nation first and come determined to patch up their differences, to forget individual ambitions and to think of the people and the nation.
"And I think if they come with that spirit, they may surprise themselves."
In addition, Mr. Annan was to have a special tête-à-tête with Côte d'Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo.
Shortly after the Secretary-General arrived last night, he consulted his Special Representative for Côte d'Ivoire, Albert Tévoédjré, who heads the UN peacekeeping operations there, known by its French acronym ONUCI.
The peace process in Côte d'Ivoire has hit an impasse largely over differences of interpretation of the peace agreement by Mr. Gbagbo and the opposition Force Nouvelles. Mr. Gbagbo suspended his support for opposition ministers in the transitional government in May and the Forces Nouvelles left the government.
The Accra meeting follows on the heels of the "mini-summit" hosted by the Secretary-General earlier this month for nine West African leaders at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Tomorrow's meeting would group the leaders of all 15 ECOWAS members.