On Sunday October 22, President John Agyekum Kufuor said on a political platform at Offinso that his immediate predecessor, John Jerry Rawlings, had gone to a head of state of an oil rich country to solicit funds to stage a coup in Ghana. The former President has vehemently denied that.
But, news being picked up from the circles of power by The Statesman is that a leader of an oil rich country did in fact make the effort to contact the Ghanaian government with the information that Mr. Rawlings had been there with such a request.
Whereas, like several intelligence reports, it is difficult to receive absolute confirmation, the news is gaining ground as people close to the centre prods the centre to be more forthcoming with information.
But, the only information so far making the rounds is that President Kufuor "heard it from the horse's own mouth."
Why fingers were pointing to President Hugo Chavez of oil-rich Venezuela may be due to a number of factors. Apart from his ruling party's perceived closeness to the National Democratic Congress, in recent weeks, President Chavez was desperately fighting his campaign for a UN Security Council seat. Venezuela had every reason to court Ghana, a member of the Council.
But, was this likely? Chavez, facing US resistance, called President George Bush "evil". Even when Bolivia was beating his nation's bid, he conceded defiantly last week, "We've taught the empire [US] a lesson." Even if "Venezuela isn't able to enter the Security Council, we've done damage to the empire. That was our objective," he told his supporters.
This prompted a swift reaction from Ghana. Our UN ambassador, Nana Effah-Apenteng, said many diplomats feel Chavez went too far in his speech to the General Assembly last month, when he said the podium reeked of sulfur after Bush spoke.
"Even if you want to bash another head of state, this isn't proper decorum," Effah-Apenteng said. "That's the problem."
Some are even suggesting Equatorial Guinea, where some former members of the 64 Battalion were said to have been sent to by the former President some years back.
However, the name of the alleged country or head of state has been remarkably missing from the speculations making the rounds.
President Kufuor said days before the Offinso South by-election, "Rawlings has been travelling and has been to an oil-rich country located far from Ghana and solicited for funds to overthrow Kufuor's government because Kufuor's government is corrupt and unpopular."
Interestingly, in his prepared speech Thursday, refuting the allegation, former President Rawlings chose to narrow the geopolitical area of suspicion to the Middle East.
"I have been in and out of a number of countries in the Middle-East at their request in recent months to either fulfil speaking engagements or to hold consultations on the proposed Economic Forum that will be situated in that region… I am not surprised that he has chosen to implicate countries of the Middle East because the whole world now knows that he is carrying out the command of his Western masters whose policy it is to vilify Middle Eastern countries and their religion."
Responding to a question from a journalist, Mr. Rawlings said, "Ladies and gentleman, the subversive… he should bring the evidence, Jesus Christ! This man [Kufuor] is always playing political mischief. You know it. He knows what he is saying is false. I will like him to call whichever country it is, whichever, who, who, which country said Rawlings came there and asked for money to come and stage a coup."
Meanwhile, Ghana's Military High Command has said the Ghana Armed Forces would continue to be loyal to the state and government of the day as the case was during the rule of former President Rawlings, a statement from the Military High Command said Friday.
"We have no other option than to team up with other security services to protect the integrity and stability of our dear nation as well as the democratic dispensation being enjoyed by all Ghanaians, irrespective of their political affiliations, ethnicity and religious beliefs."
It said the High Command had noted the comments the former President made that, "he expects the Commanders to go to the Minister and tell him that his policies or other directives are not favourable to the military and cannot work hence he should change them or words to that effect."
It concluded with this appeal, "The Ghana Armed Forces would like to appeal to the former President to stop drawing it into the political utterances that appears to be the order of the day anytime he has a bone to pick with the government. He should allow the military to do its work as enshrined in the Constitution of our dear country just as it did for him in the past."
The statement expressed concern that, "such statements coming from him as a former Commander-in-Chief tend to undermine the Command, discipline, esprit de corps, teamwork and professionalism of the Armed Forces, which do not augur well for peace and stability of the country.
In as much as the former President is entitled to his opinion, the Military High Command finds it unfortunate that as a former Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, such comments should be coming from him, since he is very familiar with the code of conduct of the military."
The High Command of the Armed Forces "respects him as its former Commander in Chief and would therefore expect his comments about the military to be circumspect by urging the military to continue to do the good work it has been doing rather than subjecting it to public ridicule, contempt and embarrassment," the statement said.