The flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills, at a press briefing held in Accra last Friday, June 18 2004, said: “…truth is truth. If the truth discredits you then it means you told a lie.”
Prof. Mills made the remark in answer to a question on reports that he had discredited the government of Ghana during his recent trip to the UK.
Prof. Mills explained that while he was in the UK recently, he addressed a Fund raising Dinner/Dance organised by the UK & Ireland branch of the NDC, and later had an interaction with the Staff of the Commonwealth Secretariat. He also delivered an address at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Africa Division).
He explained that he did make many statements during those interactions that he had not made while in Ghana. He said: “Indeed, I did not say anything new; I could as well have referred them to the various statements I or the NDC had issued. Everything I said there, I have already said here,” Prof. Mills clarified.
Touching on the subject of election monitors, Prof. Mills said during his interaction with the staff of the Commonwealth Secretariat he drove home the need for election monitors to be present for the 2004 elections.
He said the Commonwealth Secretariat had taken the decision not to send monitors to Ghana during this year's elections. However as a result of his intervention, the Secretariat has reconsidered its position.
It became clear from Prof. Mills' presentation that once he was able to get the Commonwealth Secretariat to accept to send monitors to Ghana, the Kufuor government, whose Attorney General had previously stated that Ghana would have no foreign observers, hurriedly announced that they were inviting the Commonwealth to send monitors to observe the elections. This hurried announcement was meant to project a façade of willingness to have foreign observers, while, hopefully, taking the shine from Prof. Mills and the NDC.
“We are asking for observers not because we expect anybody to steal, but to assure everyone of the credibility of the process,” Prof. Mills reiterated.
In dismissing the allegations that he was discrediting the government abroad, Prof. Mills pointed out that it is his responsibility to articulate the concerns of his people and get those concerns addressed, adding that should he fail in that and people become fed up, it could lead to unpleasant social consequences.
He said the NDC has been directing its concerns at government because although the party recognises that the EC is an independent body, “government has the overall responsibility for law and order in the country”. He was quick to add, though, that he was not calling for unwarranted interference in the work of the EC, but a more consultative and collaborative approach to issues with a view to assuring everyone of the fairness of the electoral process.
Meanwhile some NDC functionaries have expressed concern at the remarkable ease and efficiency with which the registration exercise, including the photo-taking, went on in NPP strongholds, especially in the Ashanti Region, whereas in areas considered opposition strongholds there appears to be an orchestration aimed at frustrating the people.