General News of Tuesday, 29 June 1999
The government on Monday expressed surprise at sentiments expressed by individuals and certain sections of the media on the recent meeting between President Rawlings and Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
It described as a paradox the fact that exactly what the President was complaining about in respect of running down political opponents and the possibility of ethnic tensions as a result of irresponsible use of the mass media is the same abuse to which the meeting between the President and Asantehene is being subjected.
A statement issued in Accra by Mr John Mahama, Minister of Communications, expressed regret that what was a fruitful and cordial interaction between the government and the Ashanti traditional authority has been misinterpreted as to degenerate into ethnic exchanges in the mass media.
"In the process, the point that the President sought to make about abuse of ethnic sentiments and political witch- hunting in the media has been lost completely."
The statement said it is well known fact that the President speaks very frankly and dispassionately and usually presents his point of view quite strongly.
"It is unfortunate that this should be deliberately played up while ignoring the real issues that he sought to raise.?
"The President on this occasion was being his usual forthright self with clearly no wish or intention to hurt the sensitivities of anyone."
The statement said the meeting discussed several issues of urgent concern, including the now famous statement by the Otumfuo that "Ashanti is not an island within Ghana."
It said both the President and Otumfuo left the meeting firm friends and with a healthy respect for each other and no attempt should be made to sow seeds of discord between them.