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General News of Friday, 8 June 2001

Source: GNA

Ghana bar Association advises ex–President Rawlings

The Ghana Bar Association (GBA), has advised ex-President Jerry John Rawlings to be circumspect in his utterances and actions, since he could be subjected to both civil and criminal proceedings now that he is no longer the president.

In a statement read by Mr Ebow Quashie, National President of the association at a news conference at Sunyani on Thursday, he reminded the former President that even though his position is recognised under the 1992 constitution he no longer enjoys presidential immunity.

It was in reaction to statements made by the former President on Monday at a lecture organised by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to celebrate the June 4, 1979 uprising.

The remarks have been greeted with mixed reactions from individuals, pressure groups and the government. While some condemn the former President's utterances as unguarded and unsavoury others say there was nothing wrong with them.

Mr Quashie, who was on a visit to the Brong Ahafo Region with the national executive of the association, said the GBA learnt with deep shock and dismay the statements made by ex-President Rawlings.

He said it was regrettable that a former President, who is now regarded as a United Nations eminent personality, could "sink so low as to continue to believe in coups d'etat and even imply that one is in the offing".

The President of the Bar urged Ghanaians and the world at large to condemn the ex-President's remarks, which he described as calculated to undermine the country's democracy.

"The ex-President's statement amounted to incitement and personally speaking, I think he should be made to answer for it at the law court".

He said much as the association concedes that the constitution guarantees freedom of speech and association, "such liberties must not be used to undermine the rule of law, and the authority of a constitutionally elected government".

"It is only Ghanaians who can change the present government at the next polls and nobody has the constitutional right to do otherwise".

He said the association therefore, called on Ghanaians to resolve to maintain the rule of law and to defend the constitution at all times and at all cost.