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14.03.2007 Feature Article

Kufuor-Rawlings Reconciliation-A case of much ado about nothing?

For sometime now, there have been incessant calls for reconciliation between the sitting and ex-President. Smooth and uninterrupted development and growth of a nation can best thrive in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance of one another. The significance of an existence of a cordial relationship between these two men can therefore not be ignored. This need becomes even more apparent when viewed against the backdrop of the fact that the best people to show the way to the much need peace and reconciliation, especially as we celebrate 50 years of nationhood, are the ex and sitting presidents.

It is on the above premise that I find calls by individuals and groups including the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (Rt Rev Frimpong Manso), the Odikro of Atia in the Techiman Municipality (Nana Appiah Zakari), Mr Kwame Appiah Boateng (CPP 2004 parliamentary candidate for Nhyiaso constituency, among others, very laudable and well-intentioned.

All these not withstanding, I have my own reservations, uneasiness and difficulty in understanding all these “brouhahas”. Over what in particular do we want them to reconcile? This is a question, the answer to which has eluded me for sometime now.

Who says the two must agree on every issue? Who says they must not have differences of opinion? Who says they share a common ideology and vision on how the country should be run? Are we espousing the culture of curtailing people's rights to dissent on the altar of reconciliation over nothing or albeit perceived antagonism?

Take a cursory look all around the world. Do former Presidents and the sitting ones agree on every issue? Who says Bush and Clinton had been the best of friends' right from the word 'go'? Respect is reciprocal. It is earned, not exacted! On the heals of the Tsunami disaster, didn't you hear Clinton endorse Bush's approach to the catastrophe, defending him against criticism about his initial response, as well as raising cash alongside the President's father?

And you think Clinton will not earn the respect and friendship of the sitting President? It must be stressed also that aside the respect that former President Clinton has for the occupant of the seat he once sat on, his unblemished track record makes it even easier for President Bush to trust and accommodate him.

Rawlings open show of disrespect for the current President and his vaulting ambition to always be within the corridors of power, coupled with his history and background as a professional coup maker, a bitter, frustrated and jealous personality, should make those calling for closer ties between the two gentlemen take a second look at their position.

If the catch phrase of those making the agitation is the well known cliché of “keep your friends close and enemies closer,” than they had better watch out. This is because history, and Rawlings' record makes this a risky adventure.

A look into how Hitler rose to power will help us. In 1932, Hitler was offered to join a coalition which he refused because his request for overall power was turned down. By November 1932, unemployment had reduced to 5 million. The Nazis lost 2.7 million votes and 34 seats in the Reichstag. Then in January 1933, for no logical reason other than the fact that the international bankers and war machine wanted Hitler in power, Hindenburg offered Hitler the chance to be chancellor in a new coalition. He was eventually made chancellor by Papen and Hindenburg, the Government's two leading politicians.

Unknown to them, the government thought they could control Hitler with him under their control. They also though that by so doing, the Nazis would give them the extra strength needed to run parliament properly.

The motivation is however irrelevant here. The fact and reality is that by so doing they allowed him to be in a position to gain enough power to almost destroy the world.

To quote S. Abbey Lincoln, in his article to the Statesman (08/12/2006) “is it not outrageous and unbecoming that the ex-President ever since he constitutionally handed over the Presidency to President J.A. Kufuor on 7th January 2001, has vociferously been attacking and insulting him at every turn and at the least opportunity, not only in Ghana, but also abroad?... How on earth could John Major call Tony Blair, his immediate successor, all sorts of names and hurl wild, unsubstantiated or unproven accusations at him? Wouldn't that be the heights of irresponsibility? Of course, patriotism and nationalism do impose moral constraints and obligations on his utterances and actions.”

Even though those making the reconciliation appeals may have genuine intentions, it is my contention that Rawlings' past and current vituperations, as well as world history (the Hitler episode) makes it imperative that calls to reconcile the Trojan Horse named Rawlings with President Kufuor is a case of “Much Ado About Nothing.”


This author has authored 22 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KOBLANUVIADENU

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