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General News of Wednesday, 8 January 2003


President urged to apologise to NDC

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Tuesday requested President John Agyekum Kufuor to withdraw the remarks he made against the NDC at Sekondi-Takoradi during the NPP's delegates congress at the weekend and apologise to the party.

Dr Benjamin Kunbour, MP for Lawra-Nandom and a leading member of the NDC said now that the President has agreed at Tuesday's People's Assembly that he would not be distracted to repeat such speeches it was necessary for him to withdraw the war speech and apologise.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr Kunbour said the President had said he would tone down his war speech after he had listened to Mr Baba Jamal, Deputy General Secretary of the NDC's solidarity message to the NPP at a rally held just after the NPP congress in Takoradi.

The NDC message pledged to co-operate with the NPP administration to ensure the growth of the democratic process in the country. Dr Kunbour said if what the President had said was the toning down of a war speech he had intended to make then it was unfortunate.

He said, "we have known all along that the very day that the NPP took over power it has declared war on NDC and its leading members.” It was undisclosed war and now that the President has toned down his war speech he was only unveiling that veiled war and making it public.

"We need to be guided by the development in the sub-region and it should be remembered that Laurent Gbagbo President of Cote d'Ivoire declared war on the section of Ivorian population and as to what we are seeing now we don't know who will be the winner of that war."

Dr Kunbour said it was disheartening that, "our President could also tone down a war speech but all the same, it was also gratifying that the President has acknowledged through public reaction that he will not be dragged into making such a statement of attack on his political opponents."

He said it was good that the NPP government was continuing with what the NDC had started through the district assembly concepts and others of finding way to interact with the people through public forums.

"The People's Assembly was nothing new in the political life of the country and it is good for the NPP to do it to entrench democratic governance." President Kufuor reacting to the concern of Francis Ankomah, a child rights activist on Tuesday at the People's Assembly, said his speech was made on a typical party occasion.

President Kufuor however, said, his critics should also advice his predecessor to desist from castigating and provoking him. Ankomah said he was saddened by the President's harsh speech at the New Patriotic Party's Delegates Congress, adding that such utterance did not augur well for reconciliation and suggested that the two leaders dialogue to settle their differences.

President Kufuor's address, which described Former President Rawlings as a bully and intimidating person, has received criticism from the National Democratic Congress and a section of the public as uncharacteristic of him and not reconciliatory.

Earlier, the President had accepted Hajia Abiba's advice to tone down his political statements to make them worthy of emulation. President Kufuor said since assuming office two years ago he had until last Sunday not said "anything untoward against Mr Rawlings", who had rather often made unsavoury remarks about him and his administration and, therefore, took exception on that day to react to some of those criticisms.

President Kufuor, whose response received prolonged applause from the audience said the Former President had said the coming into office of the NPP was an act of God to show Ghanaians the difference between the good and the bad.

"My predecessor had said my government would serve only one term and after that we should have the courage to stay here," he explained. When one of the participants at the Assembly asked the President on how he would draw the line between his role as President and that of the Flagbearer of his Party, President Kufuor said both officially and in private he would continue to be the President, but at party functions he would be the flagbearer.

In an interview with the GNA after the Assembly, many people mentioned the response on the rally speech as the one they appreciated most. Ms Constance Dzaka, a teacher said: "The response to the Takoradi speech was excellent and the best for me. I was also displeased when I saw him on television, but having listened to his explanation, I believe it was necessary."