"... I want to respect him as a statesman... I mean it ..."
PRESIDENT Kufuor reached to the depth of his soul when he publicly appealed to ex-President Rawlings to allow him to respect him as a statesman and former head of State.
The President who was speaking to the press at his residence over the weekend was asked about his handling of the ex-President who has been continuously carping at the President and leveling all manner of accusations including corruption against him. The President was at pains to describe how he has dearly wished Flt Lt.
Rawlings would create a situation which would make him treat him the way, he (Kufuor) himself would be treated when he leaves office. "I have always said that from the onset of my administration, and I mean it!" he said.
If there were those who may have misread Kufuor's intentions given the intensity of Rawlings bashing by those close to him and sections of the press which have launched inflammatory attacks on the ex President at the least opportunity, the weekend's impassioned plea by Kufuor may signal the president's own desire.
Though Kufuor has always maintained a dignified silence and avoided directly answering back, members of his Government have been less reticent in returning fire for fire.
Four years is just round the corner, and the thought of Kufuor being subjected to the kind of treatment that Rawlings has been subjected to, and the real prospect of his closest advisers leaping at the least opportunity to shop him in may be ringing in his mind. The first President of Ghana lived to hear his former Interior Minister Kwaku Boateng tell coup makers who toppled Nkrumah, that they were merely gaping sycophants to Nkrumah.
He advised that Rawlings should behave in ways that will not muddy the waters and provoke people to descend into the gutter and treat him with disrespect.
He is a statesman, and I hope he will live by those standards, and regretted that his actions were impeding movement in that respect.
There has been moves by Bishop Turkson to reconcile the ex President and President J.A Kufuor, but even before the talks get underway, Rawlings has jumped the gun to set conditions under which he would agree to sit down for talks. That includes getting Mr.Kwame Peprah out of jail because, according to Rawlings, his trial was politically motivated.
On the Sub-regional level, president Kufuor said the AU is helping to introduce into the politics of Africa, the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which says good governance, should be enshrined. "It makes for devolution of power", he reiterated.
According to the president when all shades of opinions were factored into governance, the people would feel part of the governance process thereby contributing their part.
He also advised countries in the sub-region to put in place strong democratic principles and an independent electoral commission to ensure peaceful elections. President Kufuor said the Government had learnt a lot of useful lessons from the elections, which showed that democracy was being deepened in Ghana and power actually resided with the people In an answer to a question on enfranchising Ghanaians abroad to vote, President Kufuor said the process was underway and expressed the hope that the introduction the identity card system would next year facilitate, the process.
He said with the dual citizenship and the ID system there would be easy identification and authentication of Ghanaians anywhere on the globe.
Asked by a Nigerian journalist as to whether the ECO project has been dropped, his Excellency said the introduction of the ECO is still in force although it is being hampered by the number of criteria because of the instability economic regimes being experienced by all the countries. He said Ghana has achieved three out of the four convergence criteria.
He responded to the question of plans to increase the price of petroleum from February 15, saying, even if that comes up, Government is sensitive and responsive to the needs of Ghanaians, and would not increase to unbearable proportions.
President Kufuor said the Government was sensitive, very responsive and caring to the needs of Ghanaians and would not take any unnecessarily harsh decisions to deepen the people's plight.
President Kufuor said the Government had managed the economy with the unprecedented increases in crude oil prices, stressing it had not overburdened the Ghanaian in the process. He explained that the price of crude oil on the world market was falling and was hopeful that in February next year increases in fuel prices would not be a problem.