Rawlings Calls for Peaceful Transition

By Panafrican News Agency
By Panafrican News Agency

12/31/2000 -

Ghana's outgoing President Jerry John Rawlings on Sunday congratulated John Kufuor for winning the presidency and promised to co-operate to ensure a peaceful transition.

"My government will do everything possible in the short time available to us to make the transition smooth. We will also share with the in-coming government some of our experiences, especially the difficulties," he said.

Rawlings said this in Accra when he addressed security services and voluntary organisations at the El Wak Stadium after they had marched through some of the streets to mark the 19th anniversary of the 31 December revolution, which brought him to power the second time in 1981.

He had earlier been in power for three months in 1979 when he led another coup.

The President, marking the day for the last time as Head of State, said the in-coming government would find it difficult to deliver on its election promises.

He said he hoped it would use the close "balance of power in parliament to foster positive co-operation in the best interest of our people. "No party has absolute majority in parliament.

"Let us not try to undermine them but assist them in uniting the spirit of the nation. Let us put our experiences at their disposal. Let us help them so that the foundation we have laid is built on," he told members of his party.

Kufuor won the presidency with 56.73 percent of the votes beating vice president John Mills who had 43.27 percent in the second ballot held last Thursday.

Rawlings said the campaign period leading up to the elections and the elections themselves inevitably generated some degree of tension.

Some things were said and done which need not have been said and done, he said.

"Now that the elections are over, I expect the tensions and acrimony to subside so that we can all work constructively together for the common good."

He cautioned supporters of political parties, especially those of the victorious side, to behave rationally and avoid violent acts that could easily lead to reprisals from the other side.

"In the days and weeks ahead, some of us will be adapting ourselves to new roles but the foremost consideration of all of us must continue to be the preservation of peace and stability.

"Nothing will come easy, even for the in-coming government. Nevertheless, I remain confident that with goodwill from all sides, we shall move as a nation," the president said.

Rawlings spoke passionately about the killing of women in Accra and said the situation called for the introduction of new scientific methods in police investigations.

This includes the use of lie detector test to which he and other members of the outgoing government would be prepared to submit themselves to if need be to prove their innocence.

This was in reaction to allegations by opposition parties that the government was responsible for the killings.

That same test, he went on or any other method to establish the truth, should be applied to those who have made promises that the murders will stop in their time.

"Too many vicious stories have been told about this government and whether we are in or out of office we have an interest in finding out the identity of those who have cruelly master-minded the murder of so many of our women in cold blood," Rawlings said.

He said the in-coming government promised the murders would stop if they came to power. ''That is not enough. The killers should be found."