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15.04.2005 General News

NDC Hits Back at anti-Rawlings pastoral letter

By Palaver

THE National Democratic Congress (NDC) yesterday hit back at the Christian leaders who signed the anti-Rawlings pastoral letter and sought to create the impression that it had issued from the entire Christian community in Ghana.

In a very well reasoned and argued Press Statement read at an NDC Press Conference addressed by one of the Party's Vice Chairman, Mr. Lee T. Ocran, the NDC told the “Christian Gang of Four” comprising Reverend Doctors Justice O. Akrofi of the Anglican Church, Robert Aboagye-Mensah of the Methodist Church, Yaw Frimpong-Manso of the Presbyterian Church and Michael Ntumy of the Church of Pentecost, the signatories to the pastoral letter, that their attempted intervention in the matter of the use of indecent language in political discourse and in the fracas between former President Jerry John Rawlings and incumbent President John Agyekum Kufuor, had come four years too late.

The Press Conference however opened with the NDC taking issue with the covering letter for the pastoral letter distributed to the media which stated categorically that it was emanating from the National Catholic Secretariat, the Christian Council of Ghana, and the Ghana Pentecostal Church when in fact it was a private pastoral letter from the leaders of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches and the Church of Pentecost.

Besides, the National Catholic Secretariat had not signed the pastoral letter and the E P Church Ghana for whom a signature space had been left on the signature page had also not signed the letter and has since distanced itself from the letter.

The NDC suspected that the pastoral letter had been written at the instigation of President Kufuor, citing comments he made at his meeting with the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana a day after the “Wahala 2” demonstration as the basis for the suspicion.

In response to the position in the pastoral letter that indiscipline and corruption were at every level of society, the NDC stated that it was worst at the level of Government but the authors of the pastoral letter had refrained from mentioning it.

The party mentioned the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II and forty of his followers and the murder of Alhaji Molbilla in military custody as instances of indiscipline at the level of Government agencies.

On corruption, the NDC referred to the criminal escapades of Alhaji Musa Moctar Bamba at the Presidency and the approval and appointment of NPP Ministers by the NPP Parliamentary Majority and President Kufuor respectively after they had confessed to sins of moral turpitude and crimes of amassing wealth, as instances of corruption of the highest order.

The NDC disagreed with the Reverend Ministers' assertion that the only problem with the harsh economic measures taken by the Government was that the Government had not offered timeous enough explanations.

The party argued that no amount of Government explanations could feed the hungry, clothe the poor, house the homeless, or transport the stranded.

The NDC also suggested areas of expenditure cuts, mentioning in particular a downsizing of Government, a curtailing of Presidential foreign travels, and a halt to the creation of new Ministries and bureaucracies.

The Party denied that there was a subsidy on the prices of petroleum products and suggested taxes in the petroleum price build-up that could be waived or reduced to include the Social Impact Mitigation Levy, the Excise Duty (both ad valorem and specific) and the Exploration and Energy Fund levies.

The Party bemoaned the failure of the authors of the pastoral letter to comment on the extravagant lifestyles of the President, his Ministers and DCEs.

But the main target of the NDC's response was the pastoral letter's reference to what it called an “unconscionable personalisation of political rhetoric and disagreement” and the “soured relations between President Kufuor and former President Rawlings”.

On the former, the NDC stated that it was all started by the NPP when President Rawlings was the Head of State at which time the Reverend Ministers kept quiet. They gave instances of when Dr. Jones Ofori-Atta, a leading NPP member, described President Rawlings as an armed robber and when then Vice President Professor John Evans Atta-Mills was caricatured as a dog.

Other instances included President Kufuor's reference to his critics as “evil forces”, his reference to ex-President Rawlings as “sasabonsam”, and his latest references to the former President as “a leader who should not have been there” and as “one of the people who do not have any idea of what good character should be”.

The NDC also referred to instances when former Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Central Regional Minister Isaac Edumadze and the pro-NPP newspapers lampooned former Vice President Atta-Mills and asked where the authors of the pastoral letters were when all these infractions of morality and decency against NDC leaders were taking place.

The NDC regretted that the authors of the pastoral letter “convicted” former President Rawlings and “sentenced h” him to render an unqualified apology without giving him a hearing when one of their number, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, had been granted audience by President Kufuor and had had the opportunity to present his side of the case.

In the view of the NDC, by this act, the four signatories to the pastoral letter had disqualified themselves from playing any role in any future reconciliation effort between the two personalities.

The NDC also provided responses to the portions of the pastoral letter that touched on the courts and Parliament and disagreed vehemently with the authors on their positions.

Touching on the politics of revenge and retaliation, the NDC said the concern had come too late I the day. They recounted the numerous occasions in the last four years when leading NDC members had warned against the tendency, and referred in particular to Professor Mills' statement on the issue at the NDC Public Forum held on March 2nd 2004 in which he preached against the politics of vengeance, vendetta and vindictiveness.

The NDC said the authors of the pastoral letter having failed to make any comment when the former Auditor-General and Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata were on two separate occasions arrested in church, had forfeited any moral authority to condemn an alleged use of mere words by the former President against the current President.

The full text of the NDC Press Statement is published on Page 5.

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