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25.03.2009 Politics

Tussle over army boss

By Daily Guide
Tussle over army boss

Lt Gen Smith - Defence Minister Information reaching DAILY GUIDE indicates that any moment from now, President John Evans Atta Mills will be performing another of his constitutionally mandated functions.

The Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces will, among other things, appoint service commanders and ultimately the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), which is one of the most sensitive positions as far as the security of the State is concerned.

But DAILY GUIDE has gathered that, there is a bedroom tussle within the hierarchy of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) over who is to get the appointment.

While the founder of the party and former President Jerry John Rawlings is said to be favoring the current Army Commander (Chief of Army Staff), Major-Gen. Samuel Anum Odotei, the President, who is supposed to be in the driving seat, has someone else in mind.

Sources close to the Presidency have hinted that President Mills has in mind a Naval Officer for that position. It is however not clear if he would want to formalize the current acting CDS, Real Admiral Arthur Riby Sampa Nuno, who insiders say is one of the finest Naval officers around.

According to the sources, the President is in a serious dilemma as to the choice of the CDS, especially with pressure from his former boss, who, it is alleged, is virtually hijacking all the sensitive security positions in the government.

Unconfirmed reports say former President Rawlings' 'boys' in the government include Yaw Donkor, Director of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI); Lt-Colonel Larry Gbevlo Lartey (rtd), National Security Coordinator; Brigadier Joseph Nunoo-Mensah (rtd), National Security Advisor to the President; and Lt-General J.H. Smith, Minister for Defence.

The Castle source also named the current Head of Research at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as one of Jerry's men, and hinted that President Mills would not be pushed into letting go the vital position of the CDS - a situation that is reportedly creating some form of tension between him and Rawlings.

According to the sources, even though Odotei is very perfect for the job, the President is not too comfortable with the pile of Rawlings 'boys' in the national security apparatus. Age is not also on the side of the outgoing Army Commander.

Major General Odotei was born on 9 January 1948, and was commissioned into the Ghana Army as Infantry Officer on 18 December 1971.

Between November 1995 and December 1998, he was Commanding Officer of the Ghana Military Academy.

He became the Deputy Commandant of the Military Academy and Training Schools between January and June 2000 and was acting Commandant from June 2000 to January 2001.

He was the Director General, Joint Operations, at the General Headquarters between March and September 2002.

For his part, Admiral Nuno was commissioned into the Ghana Navy, Executive Branch, on 14 November 1970.

He has held numerous appointments within the Ghana Armed Forces.

Aside being a Watch-Keeping Officer and Aide-de-Camp to the Chief of Defence Staff between 1970 and 1976, he served as Executive Officer on board Ghana Navy Ships GNS KOMENDA, GNS DZATA and GNS ACHIMOTA.

By Bennett Akuaku