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General News of Monday, 4 February 2008

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Atta Mills: It's My Eyes & Nose

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate, Prof John Evans Atta Mills has for the first time spoken on his health status and expressed his anger over what he described as an attempt by his opponents to bury him alive.

The NDC leader who is in South Africa for a medical check-up and other undisclosed assignments, revealed that he was only treated for sinusitis and cataract.

?I came here; I had a sinus problem. That was a year ago. And recently I had a cataract operation. I should have waited for ?but I came back to Ghana and I did all kinds of things. I have come back and I am doing all kinds of things,? he said.

When asked about the state of his health, Prof Mills told an Accra-based radio station from far away South Africa on Friday: ?That is only cataract. That is what I had and that is not the surgery which has led to my death today.?

The former Vice President and NDC flagbearer, who was reacting to a Ghanaweb SIL report announcing his death, wondered who might have orchestrated it. ?It is pathetic that the rumour would be peddled by somebody who should know better,? he agonized.

Prof Mills had insisted that he had sinusitis until last Friday when he revealed that he was also treated for another ailment, cataract. Cataracts, according to the Collins Advanced Learners Dictionary, ?are layers that develop over a person?s eyes and prevent him from seeing properly. They usually develop because of old age or illness.? Rumours had penetrated the political arena that Mills, 64, was suffering from an eye-related disease, and that he could not see well, prompting him to embark on his recent trip.

He expressed misgivings about people who wanted him dead. ?It is one thing saying that yes, Atta Mills is ill, but it is another to say that Atta Mills is dead. There was a surgery and it was successful but he died. All kinds of publications. I don?t think it is healthy for our political system.?And we should not teach our children how to lie,? he fumed.

According to him, he has never had surgery before, stressing that those who wanted him dead must have been disappointed that he was still kicking. The health issue of Prof Mills has refused to go away with opinions divided on whether it should be an issue at all.

There are those who are of the opinion that Prof Mills? health issue cannot be swept under the carpet, especially when he is seeking the highest office of the land. ?We don?t want a president who will be running the presidency from the hospital,? they argued, asking him to make his medical records public.But Prof Mills claimed that he was fit and ready to launch into action when he returns from his South African trip.He asked those who doubt his health status to come with their doctors to examine him.

However, Prof Mills was not ready to comment on the recent statement by a leading member of his party, Michael Teye Nyaunu, MP for Lower Manya Krobo constituency who asked the NDC flagbearer to step down on the grounds of ill-health.?It is not my intention to comment on it. At the appropriate time, I would make my comment known,? the NDC flagbearer said. Hon Nyaunu last Wednesday shocked the party leadership when he called for an emergency congress to elect a replacement for Mills, stressing that the NDC flagbearer could not withstand the upcoming election battle.

?Whether we like it or not we are going into the race like wounded tigers and we cannot allow a sheep to lead lions into such a battle. I?m afraid for my party,? Nyaunu cried out. However, before he could provide further basis for his stance, the NDC leadership slapped him with a sanction.

According to the General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, the party has reprimanded the MP for opening his mouth too wide without recourse to party channels. He didn?t explain what action the party might take against the ?bold? MP who insisted in follow-up interviews on radio that he had no regret for his comments.

?You need not necessarily be a doctor to know that someone is sick when you see the person. I say the man is sick. Period!? he charged, referring to the physical appearance of Mills.

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