After visiting Ivory Coast for mediation talks to try and resolve the country's deepening crisis, Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga has said that he made no breakthrough in the political stalemate between incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, recognised by the international community as the winner of last November's presidential election.

Amid fears of reigniting the 2002-2003 civil war, Odinga had been delegated by the African Union, the UN and the EU to attempt to persuade Gbagbo to stand down in favour of Ouattara.

Despite extensive discussions with both leaders, which included warning Gbagbo that he faced further financial and trade sanctions or force, Odinga's appeal was rejected. Blaming Gbagbo for the breakdown in talks, Odinga referred to Gbagbo's broken promise of lifting a military siege on the hotel where Ouattara's parallel government is based, protected by UN soldiers.

In addition concerns are growing for missed payments on Ivory Coast's $2.3 billion of Eurobonds which the country has to pay by 1 February before going into default.

Gbagbo maintains control of the security forces, much of the cocoa sector and state institutions.

The United Nations is to launch a $55 million emergency package to help neighbouring Liberia cope with the tens of thousands of Ivorian refugees crossing the border. The UN has ordered an additional 2,000 peacekeepers to Ivory Coast, which will bring the peacekeeping forces to about 12,000. The UN estimates that at least 247 people have been killed since the dispute began, a claim denied by Gbagbo.

Meanwhile military chiefs of West African regional group ECOWAS continue to discuss plans to oust Gbagbo

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