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General News of Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Source: Chronicle/jfm/GHP

Prez Jet Scandal: Soldiers Swerve Media

Accra, May 30 -- The Ghana Armed Forces(GAF) cancelled an anticipated press conference ysterday, May 29, which was expected to give some answers relevant to the latest transaction on the controversial Gulfstream Presidential jet.

This is the second time the military has postponed a press briefing on the controversial Gulfstream jet, over which questions are being raised by critics of the government.

Last Thursday, May 25, the Public Relations Directorate of the Ghana Armed Forces issued a press statement inviting the Ghanaian media to a press conference on Friday May 26, 2006 to explain the Gulfstream III jet transaction.

However, at 10:00.a.m. the scheduled time for the press conference, the Director of Public Relations of the GAF, Colonel Nibo came to inform the media that His Excellency President John Agyekum Kufuor had summoned all the service commanders, including the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Brigadier Joseph Boakye Dankwa, who was to address the press, for an important meeting, Colonel Nibo further explained that the programme was therefore being postponed to Monday, May 29, 2006.

However on Monday, May 29, 2006, when the nation?s media institutions gathered at Burma Camp around 1 p.m. the time scheduled for the much awaited press briefing, the military, regarded as one professional institution of the highest discipline, acted unprofessionally, by running away from the media.

Media personalities gathered there were kept in the dark for about 30 minutes, before one Captain La-Anyane of the Air Force, came from 'hiding' to inform media personnel that the press briefing was being postponed indefinitely.

? My friends all was set for this press briefing; this morning we started setting up the hall for the programme; however we were instructed to stop everything because the programme has been postponed indefinitely, as to why it has been postponed I don?t know,? stated Captain La-Anyane.

No explanation was given for the cancelled press conference which would have dealt with the evaluation of the jet before it was traded in for four fighter jets and flight simulator from the Chinese government.

The fighter jets and flight simulator Ghana is taking delivery of is to be used by the military, but so far it has remained mute on the ongoing debate.

So naturally, when the GAF decided to speak many journalists welcomed it, but the current development has left the media wondering.

What do these developments imply, particularly coming on the heels of the Information minister?s recent comments concerning the evaluation of the jet?