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12.07.2005 General News

Hotel Kufuor: Minority wants an enquiry

Hotel Kufuor: Minority wants an enquiry

Accra, July 12, GNA - The Minority in Parliament intends moving a motion for the setting up of a multi-partisan commission of enquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of a hotel by the son of the President, John Addo Kufuor (Chief Kufuor) and whether the President played a role, if any in the transaction.

Mr. Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader disclosed this to newsmen at a press conference in Parliament calling for a public enquiry into circumstances surrounding the purchase of a hotel near the President's residence.

He said Parliament must perform its responsibility of leading the search for the truth, which would redeem the Presidency, restore its credibility and regain the trust and confidence of Ghanaians.

"The people of Ghana only wish to know the truth and they wish to know now. Somewhere out there, in the midst of the claims and counter claims we can discover the truth hidden in the corner somewhere."

"We in the Minority have no desire to embarrass the President or anyone, our interest is to bring an end to this long-running tail of a hotel."

Mr. Bagbin said as Ghanaians, "we are unhappy about salacious stories surrounding the transaction and we are also certain that the conclusions of a multi-partisan enquiry will inure to our benefit as a nation."

"Besides there is strong public perception that the government is engaged in massive cover-up and to cut matters short, we must agree on an independent enquiry."

Mr Bagbin reiterated that the public must know how much the President knows about the transaction and the role played by Ms. Giselle Yazji who has made startling revelations of her involvement in the purchase.

"She has stated categorically that President Kufuor owns the hotel and that his son was only used as a front man."

She has gone further to state that the President has also bought the property situated between his private house and the hotel and if her disclosures are to be believed they raise several questions, which seriously dent the image and credibility of the presidency, he said. Mr. Bagbin said, according to Madam Yazji, who was also President Kufuor's economic advisor, she has in her possession documents and voice recordings of her conversation with the President relating to the hotel project.

"She has even stated that she intends turning over the documents to Transparency International to prove her case that our President has been involved in some under-hand dealings."

Mr. Bagbin said the President, through his spokespersons has sought to deny his alleged involvement in the transaction and "we are being forced to accept this as final."

"We are told that once our President has issued a denial, the matter should end there. This attitude flies in the face of demands for public accountability and transparency."

"At this stage we are not accusing the President himself or any member of his family of any wrong-doing in the acquisition of the hotel building...." However, the pervasive nature of allegations made by some major players in the transaction, seem to point in the direction of President Kufuor, he added.

"We are convinced his interest and that of his government and the country as a whole will be best served if we offer an opportunity to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the transaction. Ghanaians are after the truth."

Mr Bagbin said the owner of the hotel Mr. Anthony Saoud has sought to deny that he was forced to sell the property to President Kufuor's family.

Mr. Bagbin questioned whether it means that Mr Charles Sam, the Public Relations Advisor to Mr Kufuor Junior spoke on truths when he told Ghanaians that the location of the property was considered a security risk hence the decision by the President to ask his son to acquire it.

"Mr Saoud has made it clear that he could not hold brief for President Kufuor and his son, so there are serious questions which the President will have to answer to an investigative body legally constituted by Parliament."

"Unfortunately, the public perception is that institutions such as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) have compromise their independence and cannot be relied upon to be impartial in the matter.

"Indeed we have already pointed out the constitutional impropriety of the CHRAJ, as presently constituted, taking up this investigation. As for SFO, right from the beginning when the allegation broke, an official of that office announced that they have no interest in investigating the matter."

Mr Bagbin said the Minority in Parliament had earlier approached the Speaker for permission to make a parliamentary statement on the hotel saga but the Speaker informed the Minority Leadership of his reluctance to grant leave for the statement to be read on the floor of the House with the reason that he believes the statement would inflame passions.

"In the circumstances we find ourselves with no other options than to hold this press conference to put our views across to the larger Ghanaian public."