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05.06.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL; Welcome to Hotel K4, CHRAJ

Ghanaian Chronicle

The news that the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has decided to conduct preliminary enquiries into the circumstances under which the President's son, John Addo Kufuor, acquired a hotel building close to his father's house must be welcome news to all, especially, those who are interested in getting to the bottom of the matter.

The Chronicle welcomes the news as well, but would like to caution CHRAJ that they must not behave like the Parliamentary Select Committee on Vetting, that decided to play dumb to several allegations made against some nominated Ministers who appeared before them, with the excuse that they were constrained by their terms of reference.

Half of the questions worth pursuing have not been asked yet, therefore the Commission's task must also include looking at existing procedures for undertaking the venture, such as the granting of permits, the basic requirements for advancing credits to companies, the possible facilitating role of the Office of the President, in pursuing what is supposed to be a purely private venture, to the advantage of the President's family.

The lady Gizelle Yazji, who claimed to be the Chief Negotiator in the run-up to the purchase, which role has been corroborated by Mr. Hennric David Yeboah, representative of the original owner of the hotel building, Mr. Anthony Saoud, seems to be a key link in this whole saga.

Already, she has hinted at her willingness to make herself available before any court of law or a Parliamentary committee of enquiry. We are not clear yet how she would perceive the independence of CHRAJ, which would go a long way to help her determine whether to volunteer information or not. However, we cannot successfully, even at this stage, do without her input, considering the role she claims to have played in the transaction.

Even though preliminary investigations are necessary, The Chronicle would be surprised if all persons with information on possible wrongdoings would come forward, for the simple reason that they would be apprehensive of what would become of their evidence, outside a public enquiry.

Already, concerns have been raised about how far the Commission can go, considering that its Commissioner is serving in an acting capacity. This is even made somehow difficult, since all government officials who have spoken on the matter, have expressed their opposition to any form of enquiry.

The acting CHRAJ Commissioner, can only assert her full authority if her position is made independent through confirmation.

Some people have suggested that the call for investigations is meant to tarnish the image of the Presidency. To such, deciding that there is something worth investigating further, would mean hounding the President.

What such persons are failing to appreciate is that, any credible investigations that would exonerate the President's personal involvement as is being suggested, would rather leave him smelling full of roses.

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