Extorting A Presidential Candidate ....
... Is The Name Of The Game In Ghana Ghana on the Road to Failing Its Democracy Test (New York, August 29, 2004) Ramon Osei Akoto, a candidate for president of Ghana, returned home to Ghana from a trip to the United States and was met at the airport by Elsie Avemegah-Mensah, a former assistant to the former First Lady of Ghana, demanding money from the candidate. Consequently, Mr. Akoto is calling on the government of Ghana to step up its efforts to protect all candidates from extortion schemes, intimidation tactics and other criminal activity and to vigorously prosecute those accused and charged with crimes against politicians. A crime committed against politicians should be considered as a crime against the state.
“I was stunned by her demands,” said Mr. Akoto. “Ms. Mensah approached me to volunteer on my campaign after hearing me on the radio. She said she liked my message and offered to have an office donated to my campaign, which I ultimately decided against, but still allowed her to be a volunteer. Although my campaign is about party and tribal inclusion, once I learned Ms. Mensah was an assistant to Nana Konadu-Agyemang Rawlings, the former first lady of Ghana, I knew I would need to watch her closely.”
“I worked as a volunteer on U.S. Senator Schumer's (D-NY) campaign when I lived in New York,” the presidential candidate continued. “I would have never gone to him and threatened his life if he didn't pay me for my services. But, this is exactly what Ms. Mensah and her henchmen did. She demanded $7,000 or my death. I haven't given Ms. Mensah any responsibility to warrant $7,000. In addition, threatening telephone calls have been made to my family members. I believe either Ms. Mensah doesn't understand what volunteerism means or she is fronting for someone who wants me out of the presidential campaign. If it's the latter, they should know that I am not going to be scared away from this campaign by extortion schemes and intimidation tactics. The truth of the matter is that if Ghana wants to be a democracy, the government must not allow these types of attacks or any other type of crime perpetrated against politicians to go unpunished.”
Mr. Akoto's U.S. campaign management, very concerned about his well-being, will be calling on Ghana's Electoral Commission about these threats and will ask the U.N. and other international organizations to take an active look at the electoral process in Ghana. Mr. Akoto and his campaign management believe that democracy is more than one person-one vote, but it is an environment in which the free flow of ideas is possible.
Ghana's presidential election is scheduled for December 7, 2004.