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General News of Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Source: Daily Guide

Atta Mills Turns Down "Bush Invitation"

... invitation came only as an afterthought
National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate, John Evans Atta Mills has turned down an invitation to be part of the reception to be held in honour of the visiting United States President, George Walker Bush this evening. Prof Mills’ handlers have indicated that he would not be part of the programme of activities put in place for President Bush. However, it is not clear whether the former president, Jerry John Rawlings would accept the invitation extended to him for the same function.

Koku Anyidoho, the officer in charge of communications for the former vice president, told Daily Guide yesterday that though Prof Mills has no problems with the US President, he would not be at tonight’s State Banquet because his invitation came only as an afterthought. He said State Protocol sent the invitation to the NDC headquarters at Kokomlemle at 4pm yesterday only because he, Anyidoho, had gone on air to complain that the party’s presidential candidate had not been invited. He said if that complaint had not been made on air, Prof Mills would have been completely ignored.

Mr. Anyidoho continued that despite the invitation, the NDC flagbearer would still not be at the program because the invitation came late and his campaign team had already scheduled other activities for the day. He said it was improper for the State to have brought the invitation on the eve of the programme, and that Prof. Mills in his capacity as a former vice president ought to be treated with some respect and decency.

“After I had spoken on radio that we have not been invited, they had to quickly do something and in their desperation and haste, they might have forgotten that Prof. Mills’ office is at Kuku Hill so they went to the party headquarters. I mean, that is not how to treat a former vice president. A Mills’ presidency would not do that to Alhaji Aliu Mahama or to President Kufuor himself,” Koku charged.

When asked what time would have been appropriate for the invitation, he said for the past few weeks, state protocol was aware of the programme and should have sent the invitation at least five days earlier.

“We were invited to the Ghana at 50 anniversary and we attended because the invitation came early and when Kofi Annan came, we were also there because the invitation came early, so also were we at the opening ceremony of Ghana 2008. We welcome Bush and wish him a happy stay but because of the late invitation, we cannot be there. I do not think the Diplomatic Corps was invited only tonight,” he said.

Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, deputy General Secretary confirmed that he received an invitation for Prof Mills and his wife to tonight’s ceremony but the invitation was given to him at the party headquarters after 4:00pm yesterday, and that he even asked the official who brought the invitation why it was delivered at such a time. He said another invitation was also sent to the chairman of the party, Dr Kwabena Adjei, but he could not tell whether it would be honoured.

Victor Smith, special aide to ex-President Rawlings told Daily Guide that at 2:00pm yesterday, an invitation to the programme was sent to Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

“That is all I know…As to whether or not Rawlings would be there I do not know. All I know is what I have told you - that the invitation to him and his wife came at 2 o’clock this afternoon and he was asked to be seated before 6:30 pm,” Victor Smith stated.

Rawlings has consistently turned down state invitations for the reason that he does not want to share the same platform with President Kufuor. At the recent Ghana 2008 football fiesta, the former president rejected a VIP invitation and rather chose to watch the match from the popular stand.

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