THE ASANTEHENE, His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has pledged to establish cordial relationship between the former President Jerry John Rawlings and President Kufuor, when the latter's term of office comes to an end after the December 2008 elections.
Describing the two personalities as the country's priceless political assets, the Asantehene promised that he would invite President Kufuor and former President Rawlings to his palace after the December elections to see how the two of them could contribute their experience as former Presidents to advance the country's course for democracy and development.
“As President Kufuor's term of office comes to an end this year, it is my hope to invite him and Rawlings to my Palace as one people so that we would share common ideas and deliberate on issues that would help in the development of the country,” the King promised.
The Asantehene, who made the pledge when the former President and the Founder of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings called on him at his Manhyia Palace, emphasized the need for peaceful co-existence between the political leaders to ensure the forward movement of the country.
The ex-President's visit to Manhyia was purposely to pay homage to the Asantehene and to ask for his permission to address party supporters at a rally organized at the Bantama constituency.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II noted that both political leaders have contributed immensely in their own way to nurture the country's young democracy and it was, therefore, their duty to work towards consolidating the peace that the country was currently enjoying.
He said as the former President, Mr.Rawlings set the country on the path of democracy when he agreed to introduce constitutional rule with the election of leaders through the ballot box, and subsequently handed over power peacefully to his successor after his term came to an end, adding that it was his duty to make sure that the democratic seed which he planted years ago yields the desired fruit.
The Asantehene stressed that since the whole nation has embraced democracy as the best political option for governing this country, there was the need for all the political parties to conduct their activities within the confines of the law and avoid negative practices that have the tendency to plunge the nation into chaos and anarchy.
“I have always maintained that the best way to secure the confidence of voters is to address the myriad of problems which confront us as a nation and tell the people what you can do to solve them when voted into power, and not use insults and intimidations.”
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, however, emphasized that the success or otherwise of this year's elections would depend much on the conduct of the Electoral Commission (EC), and therefore, appealed to the commission to be fair, neutral and objective to all the political parties competing in the elections to ensure that sanity would prevail after December 7.
The ex-President in his address noted that the overwhelming reception and welcome he had received from the people in the region signified that the people of Ashanti have now come to accept the fact that there was the need for change.
He lamented about the deplorable nature of the country's political system in the country, which he said had been muddied with lies, dirty political machinations, threats and intimidations from the present government.
He said the current government, after failing to deliver on its promise of positive change, had now resorted to the use of lies and money to induce people in their bid to retain power come the December elections.
According to him, the current government had reduced the criteria for the election of people to power to the mere use of lies, manipulations and money to buy the conscience of voters.
The founder of the NDC observed that unlike the traditional system whereby a person's character and integrity are adequately checked before being appointed to lead the people, the same thing could not be said of political leadership, saying one only needs to exploit the people with money, insults and lies to secure their mandate.
Mr. Rawlings warned that the country stands the risk of being plunged into more hardship if we fail to assess the quality and the integrity of the people who aspire to lead this country and also question the credibility of their message before voting them into power.
“Our problem in this country is that we do not take time to crosscheck and examine the integrity of our political leadership before voting them into power and by the time we realize, it would be too late,” he noted.
The ex-President pointed out that few months to the 2004 elections, the pain and suffering which the government had inflicted on the people gave way to a fresh wind of excitement because the people were ready to change the government, but their enthusiasm suddenly changed into bitterness and sorrow because the government succeeded in manipulating the elections to their advantage.
He, however, prayed with the traditional rulers of this country to use their authorities to prevail on the government to allow Ghanaians to exercise their freewill to ensure peaceful elections.