Former President John Kufour Agyekum Kufuor who turns 72 years today has expressed utter surprise at the turn of events in Ivory Coast.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, the former president said he had personally tried to talk to Gbagbo directly, and had succeeded in getting calls through to his Aides de Camp where he left behind his personal phone number to be given to President Gbagbo, but his former compatriot is yet to return his call.

“I tried to talk to him without success; I phoned several times…I made several calls…I succeeded in contacting his AGCA at one point to give my number to him for the President to phone me [but] I didn’t receive a call.”

The former president said he was surprised at Gbagbo’s decision to cling on to power even though Ivory Coast’s Electoral Commissioner had declared his rival, Allassane Ouattara, the winner of the run-off election.

Mr Kufuor stated that he was made the coach of the Carter Group of Observers in Cote d’Ivoire during the first round of elections and was highly impressed with the turnout and orderliness of the voting process. Therefore, events of the second round come as a surprise to him.

In a related development, DW-TV correspondent, Jefferson Sackey told Joy FM that tension is really mounting in Cote d’Ivoire, with some schools and businesses closing down.

Mr. Sackey confirmed that the United Nations (UN) is initiating moves to transport several international personalities out of the country due to growing insecurity.

He said many members of the international community have “threatened to pull the plug on the country if a solution is not found soon,” adding, many media outlets have called on Gbagbo “to be very bold, to be a man and that this is not the first time that [a sitting president will] leave power.”

Jefferson Sackey explained that the media wants Gbagbo to hand over power peacefully to the real winner of the elections.

The DW-TV correspondent said that Liberian minister for immigration also added his voice to the growing political unrest, saying Gbagbo has put the security and sincerity of the region into question and therefore, there is the need for him to step down as president.

In a response to concerns of an alleged plot by former rebel combatants in Liberia to move into Cote d’Ivoire to help fight against Gbagbo’s allies, Mr. Sackey said there had not been any substantial evidence provided so far to that effect but admitted that such a situation could happen.

“Anything at all can happen…let’s not also forget that most of the fighters in Liberia actually crossed borders into Sierra Leone as well during the Sierra Leonean civil war and vice-versa. So if we are talking about such a particular issue [rebels moving into Cote d’Ivoire], we have to be circumspect on that; we shouldn’t take things for granted.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni who had just returned from the ECOWAS emergency session, said the sub-regional body took the decision to recognize Ouattara as the winner of the polls because it wants to safeguard the fragile peace prevailing in Cote d’Ivoire and to ensure it does not degenerate into a chaotic situation.

Alhaji Mumuni pointed out that the ECOWAS members who were at the meeting believed in the rule of law and transparency of elections, hence the decision to support Allassane Ouattara.

According to the minister, a communiqué copied to Gbagbo stated that he should hand over power without delay and failure to do so would result in sanctions.

He also said in accordance with Article 45 of the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, Cote d’Ivoire has been suspended from ECOWAS and further sanctions would follow if Gbagbo clings on to power.

The situation in Ivory Coast began when Ouattara was declared the winner of the run-off polls by the country’s Electoral Commission.

But the result was overturned by the Constitutional Council who subsequently declared Gbagbo the winner.

Both men were sworn in as presidents at two separate ceremonies.

Story by Fidel Amoah/