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26.08.2003 General News

Boakye Djan talks to Accra Daily Mail: Part II

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Former AFRC strongman, Major Boakye Djan is in Ghana. This is part 2 of an interview he granted to ADM Managing Editor, A Harruna Attah What do you say about the 31st December 1981 coup? I have always resisted and abhorred the use of the military in politics. And when I was in uniform and I was in a position to do something about it, I did that. When we went out to study and I was retired, Rawlings came back and announced the formation of 31st December [coup]. Enthused by these principles [abhorrence of coups], I did not wait for more than 24hrs and I went on a BBC African Service programme my colleague, Maj. Mensah Poku and condemned it and reminded Ghanaians that we couldn't accept Mr. Rawlings to come back and do exactly what we held others accountable for. And therefore we would do what ever we could at the appropriate time to hold him to account like we have done to the other generals. I then proceeded to set up a campaign for democracy. The first ever external resistance movement against the PNDC was set up by me at the Africa Center in London in 1982. I started using that as a legal pressure point abroad I liaised with international bodies, bankers and others to put the squeeze on, so that we could return to democracy as early as possible. Ongoing illegality Remember when they took over and they were asked when would they hand over they asked, "Hand over to whom?" So they had no intention whatsoever to hand over power. And I am not saying that we are taking full credit for it because there were people who fought inside including my own brother. But the end of the matter is that I am inexorably opposed to the 31st December because it is an ongoing illegality and I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Rawlings is a criminal. I want to repeat that he is a walking illegality. If for some reasons the current administration has no intention for contesting that issue, that is their choice as a political party. But I can guarantee you that situation would not survive beyond this administration because it's unfair for somebody or a group of people to hold other people to account under a law, go and break the same law, profit from it and be given all the state protocol, walk around and not even return the compliment and allow the one who is doing them the favour the peace of mind to concentrate, device and follow policies that would in the end benefit all of us. I don't think that situation is acceptable. Transformation from PNDC to NDC Yes I have always been clear on that. There is an umbilical link between the PNDC and NDC. All they did was to remove the "P" which was "Provisional." And now they are trying to make it permanent. In any case after the handing over in '92 everything was the same. So I cannot be convinced that there was a discontinuity. They are all and sundry accountable for what they did. Now people might think that time has passed, but look, let me tell you, as far as I know the legal position is that time does not run out in favour of criminals and therefore it's a matter of time. We should have no qualms about these things. One doesn't need to be personal about this because the law says you can't do this otherwise you would face the consequences. So as far as I am concerned what ever legal position that is available to us in dealing with the situation can and must be upheld. I agree that people have worries about the timeliness and all that but the issue is that you must have the will and demonstrate that this is the position that has been pursued and therefore you can then decide when the time is ripe to do it. But if you have made up your mind that you won't do it then the right time would not come. That is the way I see it. Chris Asher accused you at NRC Fortunately for me I happen to know Chris as a lawyer. And it's a matter of regret for a lawyer to attempt to present his case on a legal platform like the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on speculation when he should be in a position to know that a speculation, like hearsay, is not admissible as evidence in law. All he is saying is speculative because I did not make Rawlings at all in the context in which he was saying. They are saying that if I had not put Rawlings in 1979 as the Chairman when he came in 1981 people would have been very critical and would not have easily accepted him. I find that analysis extremely unfortunate and I have so many ways of dealing with it. One that I like most is the analogy of David Beckham; he has risen to be a popular footballer with Manchester United to the extent that Real Madrid is prepared to count $23 million to buy him. The question is if in the event David Beckham flops in Real Madrid and does not live up to expectation who do you hold responsible? Alex Fergusson of Manchester United who prepared him and made him popular or Manchester United who provided the facilities for him to be popular to be sold to Real Madrid? The right case is to find out why he flopped in Real Madrid. The responsibility is him as a person. Because of your readers' interest in this issue, that is why I have taken the trouble to use this analogy to put this whole question in context. In other words June 4 came and did something that I still believe was the right thing to do. I still believe in counter coups to reverse sitting military regimes. If in the process one member out of the team of fifteen decides to break ranks and form his own illegal regime I can't see how anybody in his right sense, unless you are mad, hold us who never took part in 31st December responsible. But coming to Chris Asher as an individual; what role did he play in the 31st December period and at what point did he become a target of the PNDC? After the handing over, he became a close friend of Rawlings. Yes tell the whole world that when Rawlings went to his village [Chris Asher's] where he was chief he used to entertain him in his house, he encouraged him and was his friend at the time that I was warning the whole country. In 1981, you would recall I came here and held a press conference and said Ghana was dealing with a dangerous situation and let us make sure that things didn't get out of hands. His brother, the senior Chris Asher gave me a swinging attack for daring to say things that I have no authority to say. Now things go wrong and they want to blame me. But I would tell you something; you know what his problem is, he has come to this country and wants to make news and for him to be heard he has to bring Boakye Djan in. That is how I see it because his conduct and whole relationship with the PNDC does not even justify him to attack me. If he is a competent lawyer he should know that the Commission has definite terms of reference that if you have violated human rights of any sort you are then called upon to testify. I am even wondering under what condition he is testifying because he has not been mentioned as far as I know. So as far as I am concerned he is just a trouble maker. Unless he is trying to purge himself of a crime that he himself probably knows. I am not there because I have not been invited. One analogy that he used was that I released a dog. My brother, Kyeremeh Djan was tackled by the dog but only because he set out to confront it. We us a family, we are not complaining because he fell us a casualty in a just struggle to overturn an illegal regime. NRC I have held and believe that as it is, it is the near best thing we have but it's premise could have been widened enough to take care of the illegality of overthrowing constitutionally elected regimes so we could hold these people walking around accountable. So in that respect it's unfortunate that the scope was so narrow that it can not be made to cover other things. But having said that I am not in government and I can't force them to do anything so we would make do with what we have. And I personally am ever ready if the occasion crops up for me to appear at the Commission to do what has to be done. It's good in some ways as the framers intimated. It helps us to purge ourselves of certain things. I thought that the people would rush there giving the criticisms that they had been making. I was expecting a deluge If the Commission had not been set up some of us would not be in a position to come to Ghana today. For me the best thing that has happened to the Commission is so far, nobody has gone in to accuse me of personal wrong doing and yet what was the perception about me before the Commission? I was the blacksheep and all that. In that respect the Commission is doing very well but I would rather its scope were widened to cover a crucial area that under the existing laws of Ghana. There was a crime to commit armed forces resources to overthrow an elected constitutional government, manage it and profit from it illegally. These are outstanding cases to be handled and the only way now is to invoke that law outside the Commission. It's a shame that the remit did not include it in the NRC's work. But that is my position, that someday, somehow, as far as I am concerned Mr. Rawlings is an accomplice of criminals just like. Ghana's democracy It's brilliant. The point is very clear. The media is spoiling for choice, the competition is healthy. I am not saying that everything that is happening is perfect. Security is holding and the government is doing what it can. And as I have always said the fact that the security and the government have survived thirty-two months is in itself the best indication that democracy is holding. Not because of luck as some people would say but that some people are working. Kufuor is working and I mean his record is the best that we have had in this country. The security agencies are working; there is a tremendous good-will in this country. It is a misplaced assumption to associate President Kufuor with the PNDC. My information is that President Kufuor did not join the PNDC in his personal capacity, it was the All People's Party of which he was a member that delegated him and six others; Obed Asamoah, Iddrisu Mahama, Mawusi Dake, K.B Asante, Akuako Sarpong and himself to join the PNDC for what ever reason I don't know. Six months immediately after the execution and callous murder of the six judges he withdrew and the others stayed. So, on that score alone we should credit President Kufuor to have exercised such personal integrity and withdrawing from a situation which to him was unacceptable. When we set up our justice administration system, remember we excluded civilians who had worked with NLC. So nobody should expect me to condemn somebody who was not covered by the conduct that other civilians found themselves.

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