By: Ohemeng Tawiah/Nhyira Fm/Kumasi-Ghana – The government of Ghana has denied five of its nationals being held by forces loyal to Alssane Outarra, one of the claimants of Ivory Coast’s presidency are mercenaries working for the embattled Laurent Gbagbo.
Rather, Deputy Information Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa says the five, who are been kept at Boake are ordinary masons who have been in that business for more than a year.
Those arrested have been identified Johnson Agbeko, Atsu Agbeko, Kobina Agbeko, Awana and Abdulai are in custody in ivory Coast.
The arrest of Ghanainas comes at a time that the Economic Community of West African States declared the use of force to remove Laurent Gbagbo to give way to most internationally recognized Alassane Outarra as winner of last month’s run-off.
Last month’s disputed election run-off is likely to spark a full blown civil war if the two contenders, incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara keep to their entrenched positions.
They have both declared themselves winners and sworn themselves into power.
According to Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa, there is ample evidence that the arrested persons are masons working in Cote D’Ivoire, a job they have been doing for over a year.
He assured that the men are in safe hands stressing government will not allow any of its citizens to be maltreated.’ Government assures every Ghanaian to be calm and we have assured our citizens in Ivory Coast to be very calm and that we are going to make sure that these Ghanaians are safe and not harmed and that they are handed over to Ghanaian authoriesties’ the Deputy Information Minister assured.
It is not clear whether the arrest of the five suspected mercenaries was sanctioned by Mr. Outarra himself even though the five persons are reportedly arrested in his camp, a situation Mr. Ablakwa himself cannot confirm.
“It comes as a surprise that they would be picked up and,” he said.
He added government is monitoring events closely and has been in talks with Ouattarra’s men and hoped the arrested persons will soon be released.
But he could not however say exactly when the men wopuld be released but called for calm to prevail.
There are fears of more such arrests because of earlier reports that Ouattara’s supporters are being abducted and killed by English speaking non-Ivorians.
The once richest West African country has for the last decade been plagued by election related violence.
International bodies however recognise Alasanne Ouattara as the legitimate president and have asked Gbagbo to step down.