An influential opponent of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo called on Wednesday for a targeted commando strike against the leader who is resisting calls to step down after a disputed election in November.
Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara was proclaimed winner of the vote by the electoral commission and is internationally recognised as president-elect, but Gbagbo has refused to go, alleging vote-rigging by the opposition.
Guillaume Soro, Ouattara's prime minister, said in a visit to Zambia to rally support for Gbagbo's ouster: A targeted commando military operation will be the quickest and most efficient way of removing Gbagbo from power because dialogue has failed.
A military operation which only targets Gbagbo and the soldiers supporting him will spare us civilian casualties, he told a news briefing.
Despite threats by regional leaders to remove Gbagbo by force if he declines to step down, there is little appetite among the country's neighbours for large-scale military intervention that could cause more bloodshed.
Cracks emerged on Tuesday in African efforts to end the power struggle in Ivory Coast, as Uganda became the latest country to question United Nations recognition of Ouattara as its president.
The split illustrated the potential for rows at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa this week when the 53-nation group must decide its next steps after the disputed November 28 presidential election in the world's biggest cocoa-producing country.