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General News of Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Source: Statesman

'Kufuor should declare his choice'

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Accra (Statesman) --A Spokesperson for Alan Kyerematen's campaign team, Kuuku Welsing-Jones, yesterday urged President John Agyekum Kufuor to come out to openly declare who he supports in the race for the governing party's presidential slot.

Mr Welsing-Jones said the President was taking too much time to endorse one of the 17 people aspiring to be elected presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party in December.

Describing the President as "stronger than the party”, the spokesperson for one of the leading contenders said, “President Kufuor has been slow in choosing his successor. He should have said long ago that considering all the backgrounds [of the aspirants], I think I want this man. There is nothing wrong with that,” Mr Welsing-Jones said forcefully.

“Why wouldn’t the President even want somebody to take over him,” he said, adding, “President Kufuor came into the Presidency with a dream and maybe after two terms he thinks that it’s Mr X or Mr Y who can actualise the dream.”

He accused The Statesman of pushing its relative, Nana Akufo-Addo, and behaving as if this country is about “royalty.” He also accused the Chronicle, which has been hard-hitting on some notable aspirants, of mercenary tactics. “Quote me, the Chronicle is doing a paid job.”

Explaining why Mr Kyerematen is the right choice, Mr Welsing-Jones mentioned Alan’s background as head of Empretec, but that most of the aspirants “don’t know anything about entrepreneurship. The greatest and most important Ministry is the Ministry of Trade & Industry.”

Welsing-Jones, who has switched from previously supporting Dan Botwe to Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, and now to his distant relative, Mr Kyerematen, disclosed that "Some of those candidates, they all have faults, peccadilloes.

We want some one who is not corruptible. Who is not corrupt… Alan Kyerematen is well read. He’s a lawyer. When they removed the PSI - it was Kyerematen who initiated it – and gave it to [Kwamena] Bartels, it fell flat."

Alan’s campaign spokesperson also said "Alan Kyerematen has bigger ideas than any of them. He’s been to the grassroots, talked to the people and touched their hearts. You can’t go to abroad and meet heads of state and think you can win. Those presidents don’t have votes!"

He was speaking on Citi FM, in reaction to a question posed by Patrick Ayimo as to whether it was true that President Kufuor truly supports the candidature of Alan Kyerematen.

The Statesman reported yesterday that there were growing concerns in the NPP over allegations that the President was throwing his weight behind a single candidate and that this was generating collective resentment in almost all the competing camps in the flagbearership contest.

However, the spokesperson for Kyerematen told listeners of the Accra-based radio station: "President Kufuor doesn’t directly support Alan. Alan can beat all the rest without the support of the President."

He said the President would have learnt his lesson from the Mac Manu vrs Ntim chairmanship contest in 2005, and that it would be unwise for the President to repeat that.

He went further to take a sharp swipe at those he believes have been fuelling the perception that Alan Kyerematen is the choice of the Castle. "For those people who have gone about saying all those bad things about Alan, it’s because they are jealous", he maintained.

Mr Kyerematen’s Spokesperson did not spare The Statesman, whose lead story of yesterday had brought about the need to solicit his response. "If you take The Statesman, for instance, this [presumably Asare "Gabby" Otchere-Darko, Editor –In-Chief of the paper] is an Akyem man who supports his so-called relative. This country is not a royalty. When The Statesman writes, I take it with a pinch of salt."

According to Alan’s Spokesperson, the fact that members from the camps of the other Presidential aspirants are all talking about his candidate means he has "something great" to offer the NPP and the nation.

"Everybody can do politics, but not everybody could become a President. A President has to be knowledgeable. Alan is a lawyer and an economist; he knows what the economy is about," he extolled the virtues of his candidate.

While categorically denying somewhere during the interview that the President does not support Mr Kyerematen, the Mr Welsing-Jones was quick to add: "If the President supports him, he has just a vote. What can that do?"

This was after he had acknowledged the fact that "the President is stronger than the party [NPP].He is the primus inter pares in the country", a tacit acknowledgement of the fact that the President’s influence could have some effect on the outcome of the selection of a presidential candidate for the NPP.

According to Kuuku, Mr Kyerematen is firmly rooted on the ground, and so can beat the rest of the aspirants without the support of President Kufuor, insisting "everybody who wants to beat Alan has to beat him on the ground."

He could not even understand why aspirants like Nana Akufo-Addo should be moving around the globe, instead of campaigning seriously, only for their camps to talk about his candidate because he has covered and gained a lot of grounds in the race for the NPP’s presidential slot.

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