14-day ultimatum ends with dim signs of action
The expiration of a 14-day ultimatum issued by presidential spokesperson, Andrew Awuni, asking the editor of the Weekly Standard newspaper to substantiate an allegation against the President or unreservedly retract it is imminent but it is not clear whether the matter will hit the courts.
Mr Awuni during a swift press conference few days after the publication said; “We are giving the leadership of the NDC fourteen days to justify with evidence this allegation or unreservedly retract same, otherwise we will advice ourselves.”
Although 19 days have already elapsed, at least today Tuesday 4 November 2008 marks the thirteenth working day. It is however not clear how the presidency intends to tackle the matter.
Information reaching Joy News indicates that the legal team of the President is in a crunch meeting on the issue. The outcome is expected to hit the headlines Wednesday.
Kingpins of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have however been pitching the idea of taking action only after the elections in December.
The story of the President Kufuor's involvement in a botched oil deal dominated the headlines for at least a week.
The Weekly Standard newspaper, since October, has been serializing what the paper described as excerpts of a botched oil business deal with an unnamed Kuwaiti company.
The paper claimed that the deal had landed the President in a whopping cost of $5.5 billion dollars in arbitration fees, $4 billion of which he had been able to offset.
But with the story obviously hitting a wrong nerve in the Presidency, the Office of the President issued a 14-day ultimatum asking the paper to either substantiate the allegation or issue an unqualified apology.
However in an interview with Joy FM, the editor of the paper and former aide to former President Rawlings, Victor Smith, claimed he had hearsay evidence to back his claims and rather dared the President to go to court.
The office of the President also incriminated some key members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as having masterminded the reports which Mr Awuni had described as “wicked lies' and a figment of the imagination of the President's accusers".
In a separate interview with Joy FM, the director of communications of the NDC, Ms Hannah Tetteh, said the party (NDC) dissociated itself from the story saying it was not the “responsibility of the NDC to respond” to the presidential ultimatum.
But whether the Presidency would resort to legal action or pursue any semblance of a punitive action, Wednesday decides.
Story by Fiifi Koomson