Monday, August 3, 2009

Chiefs To Honour Rawlings

Former President Advises Them To Consider His Excellency Faure Eyedema As Their Son As He Discusses A Vast Array Of Issues Including Political Murders In GhanaThe chiefs and people of the Aflao Traditional Area are to honour former President Rawlings at this year’s Godigbe Festival to be held on 31st October 2009. Togbe Fiti made the announcement when he led chiefs from his Traditional Area to call on former President JJ Rawlings at his Ridge Office on Friday. He also used the occasion to officially invite the former President to the function. In his response, the former President thanked the chiefs and elders and promised to make time to honour their invitation.Touching on their concerns regarding political tension in their area as Togo prepares for its elections, the former President recalled that queen mothers from the area had also expressed similar worries when they called on him not too long after the attempt on the life of the Togolese president. He recounted that the queen mothers at that meeting wondered whether the democratic process embarked on in Togo was a threat to some people. ‘Why should a democratic programme be a threat to somebody or to some people’, the former President queried. Continuing, he said, “We are not unaware of our brethren from the Togo side of the boarder descending on you, looking for accommodation or a place of refuge because of their fear of the political situation. ‘Will the elections be violent free or will they be as we have seen in the past?’” “We heard your voice even though we hadn’t met and acted quickly knowing that when things go bad in Togo you are the ones who would carry the burden and vice-versa,” President Rawlings stated. “As you are already aware, I recently visited Togo with General Arnold Quainoo, and in our interaction with President Faure Eyadema, I told him we could not leave the stressful political situation in Togo and its attendant effect on you our chiefs and elders to continue without us doing anything to reduce it, hence our visit,” the former President revealed. “President Eyadema responded by taking immediate action on our mission. He invited the appropriate ministers and commanders to meet with us and discuss our mission and subsequently called on them and General Arnold Quainoo to ask what could be done to allay the fears and restore a sense of confidence on both sides of the border, especially the Togo side. I must admit is very promising and indicative of his strong desires to see the democratic process succeed in Togo and in a less stressful atmosphere, President Rawlings stated.He continued that the enhancement and restoration of confidence in the democratic process towards the election was not the responsibility of the President, his ministers and commanders alone, but the entire citizenry of Togo, and by extension those of them there.Below is a transcript of the rest of the former President’s speech.“However, let me take this the opportunity to put one or two very crucial things on the table. In dealing with our political situation with Togo, we are dealing with a very complex issue. For us in Ghana we are very fortunate that during Dr. Nkrumah’s leadership he integrated our nationhood in such a way that we were interwoven like a cloth into one another, so that it became actually a nation of one people irrespective of our tribal differences. That is not to say that tribal issues do not remain - pockets of conflicts here and there and so on. But other countries also with similar problems, somehow, have not been able to handle theirs as effectively as maybe Dr. Kwame Nkrumah did.“How many of us were not seeing Ivory Coast as an ideal great example of a democratic country, with unity of purpose.” He asked if anyone expected that that country would be divided today between the so-called north and the south? “Nobody expected this. It is a reality we are living with today. We have a responsibility to find a solution to that situation, so that Cote d’ Ivoire would become the united nation we all used to know it to be- one united nation. I have only cited this example to demonstrate that we don’t have to underestimate the situation we find in Togo. Let us not run away from it.“President Eyadema is presiding over a country that is suffering from the stress of the north and south divide. So, whether you have a successful electoral process or not, l believe he would be carrying the stress of this division into the future. That insecurity would be there unless a way is found to de-escalate, to de-stress, to take away the fears that would pitch the north against the south or the south against the north, etc. A way must be found and that is a major pre-occupation. It is not a responsibility that should be left on his shoulders alone.“If you remember, I was one of those who were very strongly opposed to President Gnassingbe Eyadema leaving the scene after 38 years for his son to take over the seat. How? Why? But upon second thought, and after speaking to some of our generals in West Africa and in analyzing the whole thing, l had to begin to see some of the points they were making – that when you have a situation almost like Kufuor nearly attempted to do; when a whole armed forces should become de-nationalized and tribalized, naturally it would be a strong force to reckon with for a long time to come until the armed forces of that country are re-nationalized and it needs somebody of his kind. Half of his blood comes from the South and half from the North, so this is where some of us from a political standpoint could not help but see the advantage there. Because for me, he is not a complete northerner, excuse me to put it that way, nor is he a complete southerner. He is half of each; hence he is caught between the two conflicting factions or the two stressful situations. “ My brothers, the man (President Faure Eyadema) wants to embark upon and restore true democracy in his country, but there are some people who are afraid that his democratic programme would be a threat to their grip on the power they have held on to in that country for a long time. Who were those who attempted to assassinate him not too long ago? Half of his own people, so in effect l am trying to demonstrate to you that the man is dealing with a very complex and a very stressful situation and finding a solution to it would not come that easy.“The question is, how can we create a reconciliatory situation? How can this stressful situation be removed from between the two sides, so that they can live together as one people in order that tomorrow, when an election takes place, whoever wins or loses we would not have an insecure situation that could degenerate into what we have in Ivory Coast. We cannot pretend that these are not realities. These are genuine realities that we have to deal with. “Not too long ago, we heard that the Togolese government was importing arms into the country. Fear immediately gripped our brethren, and understandably. They began asking why in the midst of preparing for elections arms were being imported into the country. They wondered if these would be used in killing them again.“Do you see? But today, when the attempt was made on his life, how many of us sat down and reviewed the earlier position we had that he was bringing in arms against us? In other words, there was an army within an army. The main Togolese force is composed of very genuine people of integrity like ours, or others in any part of the world. But let us face it, somebody had to survive on creating a squad, a special squad which President Eyadema needed to deal with. We have seen such special squads in different places and different forms -the presidential this or this tribal this, etc. We have also seen it in this country before. When l was in the armed forces, and we had no access to arms and ammunition to even practice. Special squads were created and well armed in Busia’s regime. Kufour’s regime also attempted to destroy the Air Force.“In effect, here is a President sitting over there as a Commander-in-Chief, and his own blood brother presiding over another machinery that owns the keys to keep harassing the populace whilst the rest are not armed; so if he had to do what he did in order to arm the armed forces for the benefit of the nation to protect the democratic programme, let us re-examine our position on why probably he imported the arms. “My brothers, let me end here by reminding each and every one of us that the seriousness of the issue is not to be underrated. We do not want what happened in Ivory Coast to occur in Togo also, otherwise the country suffocates. “Here is Ivory Coast with so much potential, but when l went there the other time, it is only one half which seems to be booming and the other half was declining. The country needs to come back together. Elections would be taking place there soon. Elections for only one half? No! Let us hope that we can find solutions that would enable the elections to take place for the benefit of the whole country.“When you read between the political lines, it would not deny the fact that those fears and stressful situations do exist. How do you approach it so that the Togo would not be split into two? Their togetherness is important to us.“Last time, l said armed robbery had become a cover for politically-motivated killings. The so-called armed robberies are being used to threaten and kill people. The police are doing a fantastic job in bringing under control the petty professional armed robbery, but there are those other dangerous ones that are the politically-motivated ones. I still stand by what l said. They know how to create the killings, withdraw, and we would suffer the inconveniences of the road barriers, etc.The police will succeed in dealing with the petty social robbers but the others – the political ones – will wait. When it appears that we have dealt with these ones enough, they will re-appear in one form or another. Take my word for it. “The social armed robbers are being taken care of, and let us be grateful for that. However, the most dangerous ones, which l told our Security Coordinator the other day, are the ones who attempted to come and take him and kill him, but they got his brother instead. Let us remind people that those people did not come to rob him. We are talking about the ones who moved in on my driver when we had two Nigerian delegates on the vehicle. We are talking about those who moved in on Dr. Benjamin Kumbour with no intention of robbing but to terrorize him on two occasions, which he has not spoken about. I am talking about those murderers, who pretend to be armed robbers. What about the journalist who was killed in the Ashanti Region? I can cite man y of such instances. The killers of Dagbon King, Ya-Na Yakubu Andani, and his elders and Alhaji Isah Mobila, the CPP Northern Regional Chairman. “Take it or leave it political killings, has become a reality in Ghana! Imagine when in our last term women were subjected to political killing. No, serial killings. Quansah is sitting over there. He may have done whatever he did with just one single person. Who were those who made him admit to have killed eight people? The point is that politically-motivated murderers would have to find a culprit, a scapegoat to take the blame for the killings that took place, and they found that in Quansah. I say it again, that they cannot go back to killing the women because that would become obvious.“So this time under the pretext of armed robbery they are killing us. They want to make political killing a reality and it is almost a reality just like cocaine has become. Do you know? Smuggling has become a reality in this country. It is going to take us a long time to deal with it, but we have to. So let us not sit and live in any dream world and think that by dealing with these social armed robberies we are also dealing with the political killings. No! They have just withdrawn. It is not over, so we have a task ahead. The reality we have here is not along the lines of Cote d Ivoire or whatever it is. We have a different reality here, but ours is just as bad.“In 1982, Ghanaians could put up with a lot of economic recovery pressures because of the cleansing effect that preceded it in 1979. But this time, if the thefts, killings and others during Kufuor’s regime are not handled appropriately and we want to inflict painful economic recovery programme on ourselves the people would not welcome it. That is why l am saying it for you too to understand that we also know everything and that we are also speaking in the same direction. We just have to hope that our brothers are listening to us and would work expeditiously on what they have to do.“Finally, I would like to say that the President of Togo is your son, just as he is also a son to the northern side. How best can we assist so that Togo would not split? This is the assignment I leave with you as you go back home.” The chiefs accompanied by Mr. Kwesi Ziga, Member of Parliament for Ketu South expressed their appreciation for the warm reception accorded them by the former President, and indicated their expectation that he would be able to honour their invitation.

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