Monday, November 29, 2004

Puppet master Rawlings still pulling the strings

The BBC's Kwaku Sakyi-Addo is keeping a diary of Ghana's presidential election campaign. In this entry, he writes of the increasing involvement of the country's colorful former leader Jerry Rawlings. His hand-picked successor, is running again against President John Kufour.

Apparently, Rawlings has written a 10-page letter, addressed to the Nigerian president and [African Union] Chairman, Olusegun Obasanjo.
In it, he asks President Obasanjo to intervene in what he alleges are President John Kufuor administration's attempts to rig the 7 December poll, warning that anything short of free and fair elections would have "a ripple effect and derail the democratic process," with implications for the whole of West Africa.

Being a two-time coup-maker, his critics have decoded that as long-hand for "coup d'etat."

The administration has dismissed the allegations, and so has the Electoral Commission whose chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Djan, was a Rawlings-appointee.

But assuming the issues raised by Mr Rawlings are justified, why didn't Mr Mills write and sign the letter? He's the candidate. Mr Rawlings is not.

You see, Atta Mills was Rawlings hand-picked successor in the 2000 election (when the constitution barred him another term) and lost to then-opposition leader Kufour.

A two-time coup leader and military dictator for over a decade, former Flight Lt. Rawlings is used to getting his way.

[In a related note, the Confederation Cup soccer final has been postponed a month. The continental tournament pits Ghana's two biggest clubs and bitter rivals Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak. The request was made by Ghana's soccer federation despite the objections of the two clubs. While Kotoko are associated with the ruling New Patriotic Party, Hearts are often linked with the opposition National Democratic Congress, notes the BBC. The first leg of the final was scheduled for a few days after the presidential election]


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