Letter from Rawlings to Gen. Obasanjo
I am pleased to send you and Mrs. Obasanjo the sincere greetings of my family and myself. I trust you are in good health. The purpose of this letter is to bring to your serious and urgent attention certain developments which represent a threat to democracy in Ghana. In your capacity as Chairman of the African Union and in the light of the close historical links between Nigeria and Ghana, I am sure you will be concerned about these developments. General elections are due to be held on December 7th 2004. In the run-up to these elections, the Government has engaged in various acts that can only derail the possibility of a free, fair and transparent process of determining the will of the Ghanaian people. There has been interference by the Government with the functions of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) as well as manipulation and intimidation of a good number of officials of the Commission which had since its establishment established a reputation for independent and effective conduct of elections in Ghana is now in danger of becoming a tool of the Government in its determination to hang onto power against the wishes of the people, despite efforts by the Commissioner to maintain the integrity of the Commission. A clear manifestation of this is in the conduct of the exercise of voter registration carried out over the last few months. Strenuous efforts have gone into seeking essentially to disenfranchise large numbers of people in areas known to be strongholds of the opposition. From the recent exhibition in public of the Electoral Register - during the period of 12th-17th October 2004 - it has come to light that approximately 700,000 names of eligible voters principally in the Volta and Northern Regions of Ghana have been removed either deliberately or in error. On the other hand, persons whose identity and eligibility to vote have not been certified, are being allowed to register even though the statutory period for voter registration ended some two months ago. Attempts to draw attention to these matters have met with defensive evasions on the part of the Commission and pious platitudes from the Government about commitment to free and fair elections when all the evidence points to the contrary. I am attaching herewith a Press Statement issued on 1st July 2004, by Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). I also attach a booklet dated 1st September 2004 which the NDC has sent to foreign and domestic election observers and monitors as well as diplomatic missions and international organizations in Ghana. Hopefully, your High Commissioner in Ghana has received a copy of the document and made its contents known. Among the matters to which attention is drawn in these documents are the reports of training and arming of foreign mercenaries as well as special "party police" by the Government, specifically for the purpose of intimidation of opponents and enforcing the will of the Government. In the face of these reports the Government and its security apparatus resorts to issuing false alarms about coup plots involving members of the NDC, particularly myself. The truth is that no one is more committed to the consolidation of democracy in Ghana than my colleagues of the NDC and myself. It was constitutional reforms we initiated that brought about the current democratic dispensation and we have no interest in its overthrow. Despite all attempts to intimidate and embarrass my position, as a former President, it has been my sincere and fervent dedication to democracy in Ghana and the rest of Africa, that has taken me on my numerous lecture tours. Among the sad events that this country has experienced under this Government was the cold-blooded murder of a King of a historic kingdom- Dagbon- in the Northern Region of Ghana and the slaughter of about forty members of the royal family in 27th March, 2002. The denial of justice to the people of Dagbon after their King was beheaded led to the more than 2years of State of Emergency, which totally destroyed their economic , social and political life. Rather than vigorously pursuing the murderers, the Government has rather stirred further tensions in the area. The few supporters of the Government in the area have resorted to boastfully using arms against the population knowing that they will be protected by the authorities. This led recently to the tragic gunning down of an innocent 14-year old boy on October 9th, 2004, in Tamale. The Regional Minister has periodically banned political activity in the area to the detriment of the NDC. There is a likelihood of the Government deciding to exclude the area from participating in the forthcoming electoral process on grounds of security when the real reason is to disenfranchise people likely to vote for the NDC.
Let us not for one moment assume that such manipulations, and political corruption, only affects the NDC, but further goes to undermine the very essence of democracy; - ie. Manipulating the minds of the people in relation to positive political exhange; Ghanaian people; - literate, semi-literate and illiterate. There is a monopoly and intimidating grip on media exposure in favour of the incumbent government - TV, Radio and Print Press, to the detriment of democracy, justice and free and fair election, and the rights of all other Political Parties in the system.
Take the pathetic situation of blatantly and literally misusing and distributing state funds and resources to all levels of citizens from Chiefs down to the ordinary man, to influence votes. Funds that need to be directed to the betterment of the Ghanaian. This is a violation and an insult to the intelligence, sensibilities and sensitivities of people. In short, their survival rests on fast-tracking the rot of our body-politic and society.
Members of the incumbent government have at various times in their careers, been involved in governance. It is most unfortunate that in their present situation, their fear and reluctance to allow or encourage good governance is at the top of the agenda. Press, media and Judiciary manipulation is resorted to cover up amazing levels of blatant corruption.
The rundown to the current elections has gripped them with the fear of possibly having to relinquish power - because their corruption, intimidation, acts of violence and the manipulation of the Ghanaian people will be exposed.
The NPP based their 2000 election victory, as a positive change for Ghana. The average Ghanaian has not seen the positive change. On the contrary, they are in continuing dire circumstances. Their very desperate measures to hold onto power, is simply to cover up the serious nature of their crimes and misdeeds. President Kuffour must be made aware that anything short of free and fair electoral process, can only lead to a derailment of our democracy.
I do not wish to lengthen this letter unduly in order to provide all the detail of the unfortunate situation the country faces today. The destiny of Ghana is closely linked to that of the sub-region and, indeed, the whole of the continent. I would urge you to take a very serious interest in the situation developing in Ghana and to use your good offices to avert the downhill slide of the Government despite its professions of commitment to democratic principles and practices.
Ghana is one of the models for the future of Africa, especially the Sub-region. It will be wise to avoid a "ripple effect".
I am sure the people of Ghana will be grateful for your genuine concern and dutiful interest to ensure free, fair and transparent elections and peace in the country.
I will be writing a more comprehensive letter on President Kufour's unfortunate preoccupation in telling outrageous lies about me to fellow Heads of State with the sole aim of criminalizing and isolating me.
Assuring you, Your Excellency and Dear Bother of my
highest esteem, I remain
Jerry John Rawlings
Former President of the
Republic of Ghana
Commissioner of the African Union - President Alfa Konare
The African Peer Review Committee
U. N. Secretary General Kofi Annan
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa
Prime Minister Tony Blair
President George Bush Jnr.
President Nelson Mandela
President Jimmy Carter
President George Bush - Snr.