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01.11.2008 Politics

Atta Mills Missing in action

By Daily Guide
Atta Mills Missing in action

National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, appears to have gone underground two days after the presidential debate that pitched him and two others against the NPP candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The NDC leader failed to turn up for a peace symposium held yesterday for flagbearers in the December polls.

Instead, Prof Mills sent his running mate, John Mahama to the programme, organized by Editors Forum, Ghana and designed for presidential candidates of various political parties in the December 7 polls.

The NDC leader's absence, DAILY GUIDE learnt, nearly marred the programme as some NPP leaders trumpeted that the event was for flagbearers and not running mates, therefore Prof Mills' running mate should be kept out, otherwise they would not take part.

That was not the first time Prof Mills had 'dodged' such a platform mounted for presidential candidates as he had done it twice in Kumasi.

However, the intervention of some prominent people at the function calmed nerves.

The former law teacher and onetime vice president, though he had agreed to honour the invitation to attend the symposium, neither turned up nor sent prior notice to the organizers that he could not make it, but rather asked his running mate to represent him.

This sparked a row at the venue, with leading members of the NPP protesting that the function was meant for presidential candidates and not running mates.

The presidential candidates of the other parties, except for that of the People's National Convention (PNC), Dr Edward Mahama, who is said to have caught cold, were present.

Leading the NPP protest were Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, National Campaign Chairman and Yaw Osafo Maafo, a leading member of the NPP Campaign Team who explained that the flagbearer of their party, Nana Akufo-Addo, had to interrupt his busy schedule to attend the symposium because he was told it would be addressed by presidential candidates, who would show their commitment to peace before and after the polls.

They insisted that the NPP was boycotting the symposium since according to them the agreed arrangement had been breached.

It took the lobbying of the organizers and the high level dignitaries present to get the NPP bigwigs to rescind their decision.

Except for last Wednesday's presidential debate organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Prof. Mills had characteristically absented himself from all other fora organised for flagbearers.

On one such occasion, Prof Mills' representative was thrown out of an event as the organizers maintained that they would only host the presidential candidates and not their representatives.

Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, a former running mate to Prof. Mills, who recently attempted to stand in for the NDC flagbearer at a similar programme organised in Kumasi by the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) for the candidates to highlight their policies on labour issues, was snubbed as the organisers declined to give him the platform in protest.

In yet another instance, Prof. Mills failed to attend a Presidential Candidates' seminar organised by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Centre for Renewable Energy and sent his running mate to stand in for him.

The organizers raised strong objections but reluctantly allowed John Mahama to address the function, after a lot of pleadings.

After last Wednesday's grueling debate organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs, Prof. Mills appears to have avoided the campaign trail even as his colleagues have hit the road barely 12 hours after the event.

Though he was said to be doing some 'paper work' indoors, signs of lethargy and weariness were evident on him during the debate which became more obvious when he tried to raise his voice in an aggressive manner.

Mills, at the debate, appeared to be angry with himself, as he threw jabs at the NPP administration.

It is not clear whether Prof. Mills would take a few more days off or return to the political soap-box in the next few days.

Beside the stress associated with the debate, Prof Mills got worked up, by being incessantly angry throughout the programme as he sought to lambast the NPP government for every question posed.

By Halifax Ansah-Addo