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Diplomacy goes on in disputed election

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was shuttling between meetings Sunday with the country's defiant president who refuses to cede power and the internationally recognized presidential election winner in the latest effort to resolve the postelection crisis.

President Laurent Gbagbo has remained in office, insisting that he won -- a victory handed to him by loyalists on the constitutional council who canceled half a million votes from his opponent's strongholds.

The international community has been unanimous in recognizing Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the Nov. 28 election because the results were certified by the United Nations following a 2005 peace deal, which gave the U.N. the authority to review results and independently verify the winner in a safeguard meant to prevent any party from attempting to steal the election.

Gbagbo has since asked the United Nations peacekeeepers to leave Ivory Coast, accusing them of being part of a "Franco-American plot" to destabilize Ivory Coast.

Obasanjo met with both parties late Saturday after arriving in Ivory Coast on an unannounced visit. He met with Gbagbo and Ouattara again early Sunday, and again in the afternoon. A source close to the discussion, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that an amnesty package for Gbagbo was still on the table.

Obasanjo, the source said, is also repeating the warning that if Gbagbo does not cede power he faces a military ouster led by the military wing of the regional Economic Community of West African States, representing 15 neighboring nations.

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