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04.08.2005 General News

Hotel Kufuor: The President Must Come Clean - Obed


THE NATIONAL chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah, has challenged President John Agyekum Kufuor to have a bi-partisan commission to look into the controversy that surrounded the purchase of "Hotel Kufuor."

This he said was necessary to dismiss the lingering doubts in the minds of the public.

"If I were to be him, I would have found a bi-partisan commission or preferably to have a parliamentary committee to look into the matter for the purposes of clarification.

Whether he likes it or not, there would be lingering doubts in the minds of people whether he was involved or not."

Urging the president to gather moral courage to speak on the matter to clear his name, Dr. Asamoah asserted that, "If President Kufuor refuses to put his moral courage to test and leaves office, any government that comes into power, would do postmortem analysis and look into the Hotel controversy."

According to him, President Kufuor should not deceive himself into believing that he would do everything possible to clear his name through any foul means.

Speaking to The Chronicle in an interview last week, the NDC chairman averred that the position taken by the Speaker of Parliament, Hon.

Begyina Sekyi Hughes to block the minority in parliament from making a statement of the floor of the august house, was unfortunate, adding that the Speaker should not be theoretical under the tongue of the president.

He said, since silence means concern, it would be prudent for the president to subject himself to public enquiry to lend more credibility to himself.

Responding to recent survey conducted by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana, which saw two party gurus clash in opinions, Dr. Asamoah, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, upheld that the report flies in the face of common sense, adding that Prof. John Evan Mills, the former vice president was right in condemning it.

According to him, it was totally untenable to say that the NPP would win 52% and the NDC would drop by 50% of votes gained in the last election, as indicated by the CDD report, taking into consideration the economic hardship, perceptions of corruption, high cost of living among others.

"It does not make sense at all. There was something wrong somewhere. How can the opposition lose 50% of its support after scoring 44% of votes in the 2004 elections?

It was not accurate with regards to the assessment that the NDC would win 22% if the elections were to be held today."

Dr. Asamoah who said he would not want to pre-empt that those interviewed for the report might be supporters of the NPP because their percentage had not changed as compared to what they had in the December 7, 2004 general elections, said, "It seems to me that the CDD was doing a political propaganda for the government."

According to him, people are currently dissatisfied with certain things, which are the responsibility of the government. "How can those discerning people say they are going to vote for the government after expressing dissatisfaction with certain things that are prevailing in the country? It sounds illogical," he declared.

Dr. Asamoah's comments came when this paper sought his views on the divergent opinions expressed by Prof. Mills and Hon. John Dramani Mahama, the NDC's Communications Director on the CDD report.

It would be recalled that, Prof. Mills, at the thanksgiving service held in honour of Madam Sherry Ayittey, following her acquittal and discharge at the Fast Track Court, was reported to have condemned the CDD report and described it as 'fraudulent and bogus.'

To him, it was unfortunate that intellectuals were bent on throwing dust into the faces of the public, adding that the people who conducted the election should ask themselves what had gone wrong before such a report came out.

He made it emphatically clear that as a group, they were not going to glorify that 'rubbish of a report' by responding officially to it.

Hon. Mahama, the NDC Member of Parliament for Bole Bamboi and the former Minister of Communications who stated that he was speaking in his capacity as a communication expert with an understanding of the need for surveys, had however said, "I think that the report was useful."

In a sharp reaction, Prof. Mills' close presidential race contender said he had earlier refused to make any comment about the report because he had not read fully, and advised that people should not get heated about it.

"What I think people should do is to get the full report and take what you want rather than to pick and choose."

The MP who said he had had an encounter with the CDD when he criticized its report sometime back, by taking issues based on the findings that were put into the public domain without reading the full report, indicated that until the full report was read, no appreciation or objective analysis could be made.

"It is only after you have read the report in full that you would get the full appreciation of what was actually done. It makes it easier to speak from an informed position after reading the full report."

In a bid to parry the opinions, the NDC party chairman asserted that, "There are no real differences in what the two are saying. John was looking at other findings of the report."

According to him, basically, sections of the report were fair, considering the ratings of perceptions of corruption in the government, high cost of living and many others, but was quick to add that the CDD could not fool the nation and the Ghanaians into believing that when elections were held today, the NDC would lose 50% of its support. "It is illogical and I find it difficult to understand. They cannot fool us," he asserted.