You are here: HomeWallSayIt Loud2001 01 01A letter to Prez Clinton by a Patriotic Ghanaian (Kwame Adjei)

Say It Loud

A letter to Prez Clinton by a Patriotic Ghanaian

Kwame Adjei
2001-01-01 14:43:24

A Ghanaian writes to Clinton Rawlings: not a man of probity and accountability

(This open letter the author, Dan Ampomah, wrote to the President of the USA, was published in the Washington Post, The Washington Times and the Ghanaian Chronicle Volume 8, No 35 - Friday, November 26, 1999. He wrote similar letters to the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Kweisi Mfume of the NAACP.)

He believes that the overt endorsement of the Rawlings personality by these influential people, had given him more grease to rule and misbehave without checks and balances.

MR. PRESIDENT, your recent visit to Ghana was a memorable occasion all Ghanaians will forever remember. The reason is simple. Never in the 42 year history of Ghana has a sitting US president set foot on its soil. Sir, you accomplished that in 1998.

Ghanaians, as a people, have great respect and admiration for the people of the United States. As a result of this, the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality is always accorded Americans when they set foot in Ghana as tourists, Peace Corps volunteers, business executives etc. Personally you experienced it when a crowd of about one million gathered at the Independence Square just to welcome you to Africa.


The people of Ghana are very grateful to you for the recognition and respect granted them. However, your wholehearted acceptance and red carpet treatment given to its president, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, leaves much to be desired.

Mr. President, knowingly or unknowingly, your policies towards Ghana have given Rawlings the green light to rule carelessly and also cunningly hold Ghanaians in political bondage. For 19 years he has ruled the country as he deems fit. He preaches probity and accountability, but he is accountable only to himself. This has been his trade mark ever since he parachuted onto the Ghanaian political scene in 1979.

During your 1996 election victory speech in Little Rock, Arkansas, you envisioned a bridge to the next millennium where all Americans will bask in their God-given freedoms and enjoy economic prosperity. The same cannot be said about Ghana with Rawlings and his cronies at the helms of affairs. Rather, we are gradually experiencing a perpetual Rawlings hegemony with Ghanaians having limited political strength to crave for a change. Economically, the country is bankrupt. So what do we hope for as the millennium draws nigh? Nothing

Mr. President, have you forgotten so soon the Rawlings record? He has an unparalleled track record of an air force lieutenant, marxist-socialist to the core, coup maker and an undisputed dictator. He thumbed his nose at the West by denouncing capitalism. Furthermore, he formed alliances with seasoned dictators, such as Muammar Gaddafi, Castro, Daniel Ortega, Desi Bourtesi, Mengistu Haile Mariam, etc. Their aim was to fight anything American and by so doing entrench themselves in power.

As the wind of democracy blew over Africa, he reluctantly embraced it and overnight turned himself into a lover of the west. His sole aim of crossing carpets is to maintain his grip on power. So far, he has succeeded with your help.

In 1979, as an airforce pilot he overthrew the Supreme Military Council-2 government. As Chairman of the military junta he presided over the killings of three former heads of state and six military officers. In 1981, he resurfaced, overthrowing a constitutionally elected government. His second military junta was caught up in a cloud over the gruesome killings of three distinguished high court judges and an army officer.


Ghanaians who have challenged his legitimacy have found themselves on the other side of the world or in jail. The Roman Catholic priest, Father Kuka was murdered. The Reverend Akwasi Amoako was crushed in an automobil accident. An attempt on the life of opposition leader, Professor Adu Boahen, went awry. It ended with the commandos assigned to kill him, firing on themselves. Kyeremeh Djan, a student of the University of Science and Technology, was killed for an attempted coup. Coincidentally, Kyeremeh Djan was the junior brother of Major Boakye Djan, who in 1979 helped Rawlings come to power.

The Rawlings years are the most vicious and ruthless in our history as a nation. There are numerous extra judicial killings that he has to account for. Even in this our so-called democracy, he still holds political prisoners. Check Amnesty International report on Ghana-1998. With this baggage hanging on him, he has temporarily succeeded in using the revolutionary systems he created to hold onto power.

Mr. President, economically Ghana is in bad shape. Our total debt amounts to nearly 5.6 billion dollars. Inflation and unemployment are in the double digits. Graduates from our tertiary institutions are leaving the country en mass to seek greener pastures elsewhere. The bottom line is that Rawlings is not creating jobs. On the contrary, he is losing them.


Economic policies he had pursued have been very bad for the country. The cocoa industry is struggling to catch up with the rest of the world. Even our one and only Ashanti Goldfields Corporation is feeling the impact of his careless intrusions. Despite the stagnant economy, some ministers of state and party activists of the ruling party(NDC), continue to plunder the treasury. Official corruption is rife in the country to the extent that the killings of the three heads of state, for the same offense makes a mockery of our justice system. It is therefore, not a matter of coincidence that the International Investors Group ranked Ghana the 35th most corrupt nation on earth.

Sir, with all due respect to your high office as the leader of the free world and the world's oldest democracy, I do believe that Rawlings is the wrong person to do business with.


Two decades ago, a university degree conferred on Ghanaians graduates was one of the best in the commonwealth and the world as a whole. Presently, its value has diminished. Our educational system has been politicized to the extent that our universities almost always closes down for one reason or the other. This has become an annual ritual with no end in sight.

An educational reforms program carried out at the insistence of the World Bank has thrown Ghana's educational system into a perpetual state of uncertainty. Parents are paying exorbitant fees just to have their kids attend kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. Its tough for the ordinary Ghanaian parent because they make less than $3 a day. How can they afford fees of 300,000.00 cedis and over? The average worker earns less than 200,000.00 cedis a month. This is equivalent to about $73 a month.

Sir, education used to be a right in Ghana but now it is only a privilege.

The universities have had their share of the mess. Tertiary educational reforms launched about a decade ago have yielded no fruits. Instead it has established a deep sense of mistrust between students and the government.

In 1992, the National Union of Ghana Students(NUGS) presented a proposal to the then PNDC government as its contribution towards finding alternative sources of funding tertiary education. They listed a national educational trust fund and an educational levy as possible sources. Mr. President, the student body who were once labeled as "infantile leftist" by the Rawlings government, had their proposals shelved. Students are now made to pay an educational facility user fee of (600,000 - 950,000 cedis). Taking our economic barometer into consideration, this fee is expensive. No wonder, almost every academic year students embark on peaceful demonstrations just to draw attention to their plight.


Mr. President, last July the NUGS went on a peaceful demonstration in the heart of Accra to present a petition to Mr. Rawlings at the Castle. Instead of allowing these students to exercise their right to free movement and to demonstrate, they were rather stopped by the police, beaten up and brutalized.

Sir, if you care to know instead of Rawlings and his cronies facing up squarely to the mess they have gotten our educational system into, rather they have chosen to send their kids to prestigious schools abroad, expecting the poor Ghanaian student to become a guinea pig in its failed educational reforms. They have so soon forgotten that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Sir, is this the type of democracy you envisioned for Africa when you went on your tour of the continent last year? Your partner Mr. Rawlings is perpetuating a different kind of democracy with impunity.

Mr. President, Rawlings whom you have openly embraced is the same old wolf who at the height of his revolution told Ghanaians on public TV, "hand-over to whom?" Inwardly, he sees himself as the only anointed one to supervise the affairs of Ghana. When circumstances force this guy to leave the political scene, he will try to extend his rule by pitching his clone to the presidency by hook or crook.

Do not forget that in the 1992 general elections he won under dubious circumstances. Former president Jimmy Carter will attest to this. In 1996, Ghanaians being a peace loving people threw in the towel simply to contain him. In the process, Ghanaians nibbed in the bud violent acts that could have erupted if he had lost. We know too well that he is the only Ghanaian leader to officially espouse the concept of the "democratization of violence."

Our present taste of democracy is not refreshing. It is reminiscent of the old ways of doing things. Divide and rule, rule and conquer.This is the same old tractics being used by Rawlings and his ruling NDC party. The use of state funds to fund party activities is just an open secret.the most disturbing aspect of this dilemma is that for someone to succeed in business then he or she would have to align with the NDC party. This trend does not augur well for our long shot at real democracy.

Last October, a private radio station (Joy FM) and another private newspaper (The Statesman) aired and published a taped conversation between two individuals. A gentleman on the tape implicated and linked rawlings to a series of crimes that had been committed in the country. Within 24 hours the whole state security apparatus was marshaled against the journalists. This incident is still under a so-called investigation. These journalists are not given the chance to freely do their job. This stifles press freedom. Furthermore, if the chief executive of the country is implicated in crimes against the laws of the land, the issues need to be addressed meticulously without undue interference and harassment of the independent press.

Sir, the litany of our woes continues. A gentleman named Kwabena Agyapong, whose father was among the three judges murdered during the revolution in 1982, has on countless occasions requested the government to institute a probe into his fathers death. To this very day, the government has failed to respond to his request. However, when a tape is aired implicating Rawlings, innocent people lose their jobs, are detained, harassed and intimidated just for airing the truth.

Mr. President, Ghanaians as a people know that Rawlings is an albatross on their neck. We want you and the whole world to refocus your attention one more time on Ghana.

Sir, as leader of the free world I submit to you to reassess your relationship with Rawlings. He is not worth the red carpet treatment he has enjoyed so far at the White House.


The Rawlings story is akin to what Augusto Pinochet did in Chile. Sir, if you despise tyrants and dictators, then you should not rehabilitate him politically and economically. He has innocent blood on his hands. Therefore, he should be made to account for his actions past and present.

Mr. President, if after years of torture and murders reconciliation is working in South Africa, and Nigeria is cleansing the ghost from its past, then Ghana has a problem. We have not seriously addressed issues of our recent past. As a result of this, our nascent democracy is not growing the way it should because Ghanaians still have hurts in their hearts. Sir, take a second look at Rawlings and for that matter Ghana.

Thank you.
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