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Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tunisia: Opportunity for United States to Begin a New Chapter

*By Lord Aikins Adusei

The events in Tunisia offer a real opportunity for United States and her European allies to take a critical look at the way they have used the so called national interests to protect autocratic regimes in the Middle East and Africa and put them on collision with the people. For decades United States of America and her European allies have openly supported the corrupt and despotic governments in the Middle East and Africa whose only interest is to maintain their grip on power without offering the people any hope of economic, political and social development. These regimes have suppressed and continue to suppress freedom and democratic ideals cherished and enjoyed by Americans and Europeans with the full support of Western governments.

Today the entire Arab World is full of leaders who have built the foundation of their totalitarian regimes on arms and weapons supplied to them by the United States and her allies in Europe. The security forces usually deployed by the regimes to terrorise, maim and kill the people have been financed, trained and armed by France, the US, Britain and their cohorts. Egypt for instance receives about $1.3bn annually from the US despite the fact that the country's autocratic leaders continue to suppress freedom of speech, assembly and the right of Egyptians to freely elect their leaders. The regime in Saudi Arabia has maintained its grip on power through arms sold to it by the United States. Last year for instance (September 2010), the State Department said that United States was selling arms worth about $60 billion to Saudi Arabia. 

According to the website www.warisbusiness.com between 1987 and 2009 the United States government signed $349 million worth of arms deal with Tunisia's ousted dictator Ben Ali that enabled him to maintain his grip on power. In Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait and Morocco weapons built by European and American firms are constantly used to harass people with legitimate grievances over unemployment, poverty, high inflation, high prices of food and other concerns. 

The behaviour of Western governments abroad, the support they give to regimes that abuse the rights of their citizens, directly contradict what they do at home. There are many monarchies in Europe (Britain, Holland, Spain and Sweden) yet we do not see the citizens in these countries being arrested, detained, tortured and summarily executed. On the contrary the countries in Europe with established monarchies are some of the open and freest societies on earth. However, the monarchies and autocratic regimes in the Middle East with Western support frown on anything called democracy, freedom and human rights and their citizens are some of the most repressed on earth.

From Bahrain in the Persia Gulf to Morocco in the Mediterranean no dissent is tolerated. People are arrested, detained, tortured and summarily executed for voicing for the right to speak their mind freely. William H. Lewis of the Atlantic Council notes that in Libya: “Qaddafi remains in tight control of domestic developments. Public criticism of government policies is not countenanced; the press is carefully monitored and labor organizations are restricted. Any political opposition is intimidated, imprisoned, or forced into exile. In short, there are no viable pathways for political reform in Libya.” Annual Reports publish by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other right organisations contain tales of torture, and inhuman treatment carried out by the governments with weapons sold to them by US authorities. The US which pride itself as the leader of the Free World has not given its support to the progressive forces in these regions fighting for change, instead it has aligned more and more with the brutal regimes. 

The unflinching support the leaders receive from the West has helped to alienate them from their citizenry. Instead of building a society which is more tolerant and inclusive, the opposite is the situation. Large sections of the population in these countries have been marginalised socially, economically and politically. Everyday the people in the Middle East and Africa see the huge wealth being created from oil, gas, gold, diamond and other precious metals yet they are not allow to benefit. In Tunisia, the recently leaked US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks talk about massive corruption and nepotism at the presidency. Ben Ali is reported to have asked for a fifty per cent share of a business deal. His wife Leila Ben Trabelsi is spoken off as a corrupt queen grabbing by force anything that she sets her eyes on. Leila's brother Belhassen Trabelsi is known in Tunisia as the most notorious of the Trabelsi clan. His corrupt activities extend from banking, to real estate, tourism, information technology and airline. Imed and Moaz Trabelsi, President Ben Ali's nephews, are reported to have stolen a yacht belonging to Bruno Roger, a well-known French businessman and Chairman of Lazard Paris, a prominent firm with interest in banking and asset management. 

Ben Ali, Leila Trabelsi and their associates in Tunisia are no different from the rulers in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Over the years these corrupt leaders have signed huge arms, oil and other business contracts with American and European firms and siphoned what should have gone to the people into their private bank accounts in America, France, Britain and Switzerland with the full knowledge of American and European political establishments. The series of corrupt deals involving members of the Saudi Royal family and British defence, security and aerospace company (BAE Systems) are a case in point. Billions of dollars worth of arms sold to Saudi Arabia by BAE Systems had their prices inflated and the proceeds diverted to Switzerland by members of the Saudi Royal family and Prince Bandar in particular. Then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair ordered Lord Goldsmith and the Serious Fraud Office to stop investigating the BAE deals saying the investigations were harming British interests. In the same vane the media reported in August 2009 that Britain freed Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the jailed 1988 Lockerbie bomber, because of a $500 million oil deal between Gaddafi and British Petroleum. 

In French speaking Africa, France is more interested in protecting her business and other interests in Gabon, Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville than ensuring that citizens in those countries enjoy political and economic freedom. A November 2009 article in the New York Times written by Adam Nossiter titled “Ill will grows in former colonial region” tells a sad story of French leaders pulling the strings in Africa, supporting dictators, siding with leaders who rig elections and actively promoting FrenchAfrique in contrast with assertions by Nicolas Sarkozy that France was ending its opaque and corruption ridden policies in its former African colonies. The US and Europe it seems are more interested in protecting their interests than making sure the freedom, democracy and respect for human rights they preach is practised by their friends and allies in the regions.

While the shady deals have continued unabated and have helped to shape US and European policies in the Middle East and Africa, the shady deals have also created a situation where the leaders have remained largely unaccountable; worked to ensure the survival of their regimes; and preserve US and European interests rather than that of their people and countries. 

As unemployment, inflation and prices of basic commodities soar, the leaders who live in securitised palaces continue to act in business as usual fashion. They continue to remain detached from their people, most of whom have become frustrated, depressed and live in fear of their leaders. In Egypt many people have sought to solve their problems by committing suicide. The same is true in other countries as the case in Tunisia shows, where Bouazizi Mohamed, a young graduate unemployed youth set himself ablaze and in the process triggering the violence that toppled Ben Ali. 

But the frustration, depression and suicides are not the only consequences. The detachment of the leaders from the people has created a wide and deep crater (vacuum) that has been exploited by Al Qaeda and other Jihadists' groups. The support Al Qaeda and its affiliate organisations enjoy in the Middle East and the Sahel region of Africa shows that there is a strong link between the growth of terrorism on one hand and political repression, economic and social marginalisation on the other. The growth of terrorism and terrorists' attacks against American and European targets also show that poor and marginalised people without jobs will find solace in extremism as a way to express their frustration and to challenge the existing order.

The 9/11 and 7/7 attacks should have led the US and Europe to assess and examine their foreign policies especially their relationship with the corrupt regimes in these countries. The attacks should have encouraged the United States to push for economic and political reform in these countries and to distant itself from the corrupt and repressive regimes that would not reform. The US and Europe after the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks should have made their policies towards the regions more transparent and build allies based on the tenets of democracy, respect for rule of law and economic and social freedoms.

But this was never to happen. Instead the assessment that was made after 9/11 rather led to a closer collaboration between the hated regimes and the United States and her allies. The 'War on Terror' declared by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks has been seen as a gold mine by Ben Ali and his cohorts in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen among others. These leaders have used the 'War on Terror' as an excuse to further curtail the few rights and freedoms that previously existed. The 'War on Terror' has been used to silence critics of the regimes to the point that anything associated with rights and freedoms is quickly linked to extremism and terrorism and brutally crashed. It was therefore no surprise that the Tunisian Interior Minister, in the wake of the demonstrations, sought to link the genuine protests over poverty, unemployment, high inflation and high food prices to extremists groups. Linking the protests to terrorism was a ploy not only to win the sympathy and support of American and European governments but also to use it as an excuse to brutally smash the demonstration. 

The leaked cables indicate that United States has been aware of the harassments, the human right abuses and the massive corruption, that largely defined Ben Ali's government. A statement from one of the cables reads: “Tunisia is a police state, with little freedom of expression or association and serious human rights problems”. Another cable also notes that President Ben Ali's extended family is the nexus of Tunisian corruption. The Cable concludes: “Corruption is the elephant in the room; it is the problem everyone knows about, but no one can publicly acknowledge. The lack of transparency and accountability that characterize Tunisia's political system similarly plague the economy, damaging the investment climate and fueling the culture of corruption”.

In spite of having full knowledge of the massive corruption perpetrated by Ben Ali, his family and members of his government the US did little publicly to call for a paradigm shift in a way the country's economy was being raped and mismanaged until the violent demonstrations took place. And even while the demonstrations were underway the US and her European allies were reluctant in condemning Ben Ali and his security forces. For instance in the wake of the uprising in Tunisia, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of States was asked during her visit to Middle East about the situation in Tunisia. Her response was: “We can't take sides”.

Secretary Clinton should have stood with the people of Tunisia and demanded change, a position that was later taken by President Obama when he spoke condemning the police crackdown on the protesters. A statement released by the White House quoted President Obama as saying:

“I condemn and deplore the use of violence against citizens peacefully voicing their opinion in Tunisia, and I applaud the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people. The United States stands with the entire international community in bearing witness to this brave and determined struggle for the universal rights that we must all uphold, and we will long remember the images of the Tunisian people seeking to make their voices heard”. 

By the time the above statement was released more than fifty-five Tunisians had perished, shot dead by Ben Ali's US and French backed security forces. Additional twenty three were to die later, bringing the total to seventy-eight. The seventy-eight people who died as a result of police brutalities could have been saved if the US and France had spoken out and had been more vocal against corruption, and the impunity of Ben Ali and his henchmen.

History has shown that the American people love justice and fairness; they love rule of law, respect for human rights, economic opportunities for all and they have been supporting many humanitarian programmes around the world. At the same time they hate the misuse of their taxes for activities that undermine development and human progress elsewhere. Therefore why should their taxes be used to support autocratic regimes who are hell bent on denying their people the very opportunities that are the symbol of American power and progress? Why should their taxes be used to train security forces that perpetrate violence and atrocities against their own people with the support of the American government?

This is why I believe US should seize the opportunity brought by Tunisia revolution and push for radical reform in the Middle East and also in Africa, that is reforms that will open up the countries that have been turned into prisons by the corrupt leaders. 

US and her allies in Europe should begin to realise that their policies in the Middle East and Africa are not working and need serious evaluation. The policies are breeding more extremists than Bin Laden could have achieved on his own. It is alienating the governments from the people, and moving them closely to radical ideologies spewed by those who hate America and her ideals. 

I cannot see the US and her allies winning the 'War on Terror' either now or in the near future while large section of the populations in the Middle East and Africa are excluded from the economy, and while they remain poor and marginalised. The war against extremism and terrorism will not be won and the influence of Bin Laden and his organisation will not wane unless United States and Europe push for a more inclusive, democratic, transparent and corruption free governments that respect not only human rights and freedom of speech but also allow a vibrant civil society to develop. 

Therefore the United States and her allies must stop being quiet while great injustices are being committed against innocent people in the name of 'War on Terror'. The men, women, children, the poor and the unemployed youth in these countries would want to know openly whether the United States government and the American people are with them or are with their autocratic governments. The US must say openly what it says to the leaders in private to reassure the people that the world's great democracy is behind them.

In Egypt for example US could use the $1.3bn annual aid it gives to the country as a leverage to push for democratic and economic reform that will enable the people to actively participate in the political and economic development of their country. That huge aid could be used as a leverage to empower the people so they can openly criticise their government without being arrested. Therefore it may be wise for United States to cut off funding to regimes that will not reform and use the funds to support progressive forces and engage those marginalised by US policies in these countries

Additionally, the regimes must be encouraged to lift the censorship on media, allow private media to operate freely and grant more licenses to others. If Americans can express their opinion freely on CNN, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, why should Saudis, Egyptians, Moroccans and Algerians have to go to jail for doing the same? 

It is important to promote and protect US economic and other interests in these countries but what is the gain when fifty year old economic interests are destroyed within a twinkle of an eye as the situation in Tunisia has shown? What is the use when diplomats and their dependants are put at great risk in these countries? What is the gain when US and European citizens are kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by extremists as recent cold blood murder of two Frenchmen in Niger shows? Must the US national interests supersede our common humanity? That is not to say US and her allies should stop promoting their interests in these countries but the interests must be pursued in open and transparent manner devoid of the corruption, hypocrisy and double standards. In short the interests must not be pursued against the sufferings of the people.

The recommendation offered by the US Ambassador in Tunis contained in the leaked cables published by Wikileaks could not be more clear. The ambassador recommended that US should: 

“keep a strong focus on democratic reform and respect for human rights, but shift the way we promote these goals; -- seek to engage the Government of Tunisia in a dialogue on issues of mutual interest, including trade and investment, Middle East peace, and greater Maghreb integration; -- offer Tunisians (with an emphasis on youth) more English-language training, educational exchanges, and cultural programs; -- move our military assistance away from FMF, but look for new ways to build security and intelligence cooperation”.

The above is what United States and her European allies should have done before and after 9/11. However it is not too late. US and her allies should quickly embrace the opportunity the Tunisian revolution offers, engage the governments and the people in the region and usher in a new chapter that places emphasis on inclusion of all citizens in decision making, democracy, respect for human dignity, and freedom to live a life of their choice.

*The author is a political activist and anti-corruption campaigner. He is the author of "Switzerland: A parasite feeding on poor African and Third World Countries?"

Over liberalization of trade, killing local industries - Participants

Wa, Jan. 25, GNA - Participants at a two-day sensitisation and information workshop, on international trade issues, have observed that, the over liberalization of the trading system in Ghana was hampering the growth of indigenous Ghanaian industries.
The participants noted that foreigners had invaded the Ghanaian market with cheap and low quality products that could not be compared with Ghanaian products.
They made the observation at a workshop, organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, on Monday, at Wa, in the Upper West Region.
The participants called on the government to strengthen its trade policies, to save local industries from the threat they faced from imported goods, some of which are of low quality.
Mr Cezar Kale, Deputy Upper West Regional Minister, who opened the workshop, said it sought to refocus the minds of participants on international trade issues, and particularly make them realise that the international scene was partly influenced by what pertained internally, with regards to trade and industry.
Mr Kale commended the Ministry of Trade and Industry for organising the workshop and hoped that it would shed light on the processes, challenges, implications and more importantly, the opportunities that could be utilised, especially, by the private sector for the benefit of the wider society.
He said Ghana had been a member of the World Trade Organisation since its inception on January 1, 1995 and had since remained active in its activities, spanning policy issues, negotiations, dispute resolution, to that of liberalizing trade.
He urged the participants to be abreast with current developments at the international market, especially, with the Doha Development Agenda, the Regional Integration of ECOWAS States, as well as the Economic Partnership Agreement between West Africa and the European Union.
Mr Kale also appealed to the Ministry of Trades and Industry to liaise with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to initiate the process that would bring to life, the idea of a Joint Border Check points to facilitate smooth trade within the sub-region.
Mr Rowland Aggor, an Independent Trade Expert and one of the resource persons at the workshop, took the participants through the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), its implementation challenges, as well as other ECOWAS Protocols.
He said the ETLS was established in 1990 to remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers between member states, over a 10-year period.
The objective, he mentioned, was to eliminate distortions and discriminatory procedures and enhance free movement of goods from one country to another, without having to go through any difficulty.
Some of the challenges he said, were non compliance from member states to grant zero duty rate to approved products, lack of adequate transport infrastructure, lack of universal or mutual recognition of certification and standards, as well as administrative barriers at borders and unnecessary check points on highways.
Mr Aggor called for the institutionalization of a mechanism to forestall the unilateral imposition of ban on imports by any member country, establishment of ECOWAS Food and Drugs Authority to certify food and beverages.
Additionally, he suggested the establishment of an ECOWAS Desk and Complaints Units in all the borders, the removal of non-tariff barriers and the learning of official languages, such as English and French, by citizens of member states.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mills shouldn’t have signed if he didn't want war – NPP Chairman

NPP Chairman,
Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey
NPP Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey
New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairman, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey says President J.E.A. Mills should not have signed the ECOWAS document on Cote d’Ivoire if he knew that military intervention was not on the cards for Ghana.

The NPP Chairman was reacting to claims from government circles that the African Mission at the United Nations (UN), which described military intervention in Cote d’Ivoire as “no option”.

Speaking to Accra-based Peace FM, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey insisted that the NPP never said President Mills should send troops to Cote d’Ivoire, but was only concerned that the president had undermined ECOWAS’ position on Cote d’Ivoire.

“The President had told us that he had signed the [ECOWAS] document [on Cote d’Iovire] with the other ECOWAS leaders. Then what that document had said, he had then gone on to say that he personally did not subscribe to even though he had signed it and that itself undermines the position of ECOWAS,” he stated.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey maintained that the President should not have signed the ECOWAS document on Cote d’Ivoire which included the option of military intervention if he was not in favour of it.

“If the President’s position from the very beginning was very adamantly that no troops should be sent, then possibly he should not have signed the document,” he contested.

Myjoyonline Ghana News Photos |
Koku Anyidoho, Head of Communications at the Presidency
Early on the same programme, Head of Communications at the Presidency, Koku Anyidoho had said President Mills felt vindicated by the new continental position and stated that this would avoid any casualties on the side of all stakeholders.

Mr Anyidoho said the President will be attending an African Union (AU) summit meeting slated for January 28 to January 30, at which the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire is expected to be discussed and a statement issued to that effect.

The Head Of Ghana’s Permanent Mission To The United Nations reports that the African Mission at the UN is not keen on any military option in Cote d’Ivoire.

Story by Fidel Amoah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Gabby: Mills' vindication letter is "desperate propaganda" piece

Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Gabby Asare Otchere Darko
The Executive Director of Danquah Institute, Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, is asking President John Mills to tell Ghanaians whether or not he would pullout Ghanaian peacekeepers in Cote d’Ivoire should war break out there.

The president on January 7 told journalists that Ghana would be unable to commit troops to support a military intervention in the Ivorian crisis because the nation was overstretched. He also said he did not think a military intervention would secure a solution to the Ivorian stand-off, engendered by the refusal of incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to step down after polls his opponent, Allasane Ouattara was widely thought to have won.

According to President Mills, Ghana has 500 troops in Cote d’Ivoire as part of a UN force protecting the UN-backed Alansane Ouatarra.

President Mills’ statement attracted criticisms from especially members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) who said he had sought to undermine the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS) – which unanimously decided to opt for a military intervention should mediation fail in resolving the impasse.

On Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana programme Tuesday, Gabby Otchere Darko who is also a staunch member of the NPP was commenting on contents of a letter published by the two state dailies of Daily Graphic and The Ghanaian Times asserting that the President’s position has been vindicated.

According to the letter, a report sent by The Head Of Ghana’s Permanent Mission to The United Nations for the attention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicates that the Africa Group of Ambassadors at the UN has described the military option to the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire as a ‘no option’.

But Gabby says he finds it “extremely doubtful” that what is stated in the letter is the position of the African Group within the UN Security Council. He said information available to him indicates that at least the stance as portrayed in the purported letter is not the position of Nigeria and that the letter “appears to be a very desperate propaganda work to me and I think it will end up even digging deeper the trench that already Ghana is in, in terms of its isolated position on the collective position of ECOWAS.”

Mr Otchere Darko further explained that whatever position taken by the African Group of Ambassadors represents the exact position of their countries, therefore he wondered why President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria who is also chairman of the ECOWAS said to President Raila Odinga of Kenya on Sunday that “We [ECOWAS] have not changed the position we took during our last summit” while his country’s representative at the AU supports a ‘no military option’ as reported by the said letter.

For Gabby, ECOWAS has always been consistent in its position, again quoting President Jonathan as saying “the use of force will depend on the outcome of a series of meetings to be held with stakeholders of Cote d’Ivoire.

“That is why I think the President’s unsolicited view on the use of troops was very unfortunate, undiplomatic and actually undermining the collective position of West Africa,” he said.

He added: “I think this letter that has been put on the front page of the Graphic and the Times would end up causing Ghana more embarrassment than actually vindicating the President.”

According to Gabby, “there are about 26 elections in Africa this year alone and among this 19 is for a change of government”, therefore, “it is important that a clear message is sent across [using the Ivory Coast situation].”

“I want the President to answer one question, respectfully, if you don’t mind: already he says we have 500 troops in Cote d’Ivoire … now are we saying that if war were to break in Cote d’Ivoire we will pull those troops out?”

[Read below contents of the letter by The Head Of Ghana’s Permanent Mission to The United Nations for the attention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which informed the publications.]

Story by Dorcas Efe Mensah/myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Myjoyonline Ghana News Photos |
President J.E.A. Mills during the media encounter he said he believed armed intervention in Cote D'Ivoire wouldn't bring a solution.
The monthly consultation meeting of the Africa Group of Ambassadors at the United Nations was convened on Thursday 13th January 2011 at the behest of the African Members and the Security Council i.e. Gabon, Nigeria, and South Africa.

2. This was to enable the latter countries brief the Group on the latest African position adopted at the Security Council on Cote d'Ivoire, and what would appear to be an emerging consensus on the Council.

3. The said position is summarized as follows:
  • the military option is "no option"
  • the evolving refugee situation is a matter of concern
  • the victory of Mr. Alhassane Ouattara as President-elect of Cote d’Ivoire should be respected

4. All the African Ambassadors at the meeting who elected to comment on the above stated 6-point position, took turns to commend the African Members of the Security Council for the diligent and pragmatic position taken.

5. In the particular case of Burkina Faso, the Ambassador intimated, in apparent reference to point (4) above, that the mandate of President Compaore of Burkina Faso, as ECOWAS mediator in the Cote d’Ivoire crisis, ended with the holding of the recent elections in that country

6. Still on Cote d'Ivoire, Information reaching this Mission is that ECOWAS had planned to field two Missions to some major capitals in North America and Europe i.e. to New York and Washington comprising the Presidents of Sierra Leone and Mali, and on the other hand, to Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi led by the President of the ECOWAS Commission.

7. While it is not clear whether the North American leg of the Mission would come on, our information is that regarding the Asian segment, only India appears to have responded positively to the planned ECOWAS Mission to Asia and Moscow. The latest development appears to be that President Compaore of Burkina Faso, the Permanent Secretary of the Nigerian Foreign Ministry, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, are embarking on a Mission to London and Paris this week. However, since London is receiving the delegation only at the ministerial level, it is likely that; President Compaore will only travel to Paris.

8. Furthermore, indications are that the ECOWAS Chiefs of Staff will be meeting this week in Bamako, Mali on the Cote d’Ivoire situation.

9. Ghana's long espoused position disrecommending the military option in Cote d’Ivoire appears to have been vindicated although the solution to the ongoing crisis seems to be highly elusive.

10. The United Nations says it is looking up to ECOWAS and the African Union to help find an answer to the current stalemate. The upcoming AU Summit at the end of January 2011 should therefore be critical in the on going efforts to help bring closure to the current electoral crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.

11. The Mission will continue to monitor the situation and report accordingly.


NDC wants credit for things they've not done - Ex-minister

Former Minister for Fisheries,
Gladys Asmah
Former Minister for Fisheries, Gladys Asmah
Former Minister for Fisheries, Mrs. Gladys Asmah has described as laughable, assertions by Deputy Minister in charge of Fisheries, Nii Amasah Namoale that the Mills' administration deserves all the credit for the current infrastructural development projects in that sector.

According to the former Minister, the NDC after failing to honour its numerous campaign promises to the indigenes of fishing communities across the country, has resorted to lying about some pertinent national issues to save its image.

Reacting to some claims made by the Deputy Minister regarding the sector, Mrs. Asmah told The New Crusading Guide in an interview that "the man cannot be serious. He knows what he is saying cannot be substantiated. You can never twist the facts. The NDC is panicking. They are just wondering what to tell the electorate and that is why they want to take credit for things they've not done".

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister had earlier told this paper in an interview that the Mills-led Administration deserved every credit for the current developmental projects in the fishing industry. These projects included the construction of fishing habours, cold-stores and refrigeration facilities to help reduce post-harvest losses and also modernise the fishing industry.

The Deputy Minister in the two-year old NDC Administration, said the Mills government deserved commendation for work done so far as the NPP whiles in office only exhibited its dreams for the sector and nothing more.

To this, Mrs. Asmah said "President Kufuor wouldn't have cut the sod for projects he did not know where money would come from for their funding. They had all been accepted and approved. Just as in the case of the Bui dam project, cabinet decided that we used our internally generated funds before the loan was ready".

She further explained that local funding was used for the preparation of the site for the projects, adding that "four companies applied after which a contract of $41 million was signed. We completed everything and knew where the money was coming from. He (Nii Amasah) said he went to Netherlands for what? To continue with what had been initiated".

Giving a breakdown, the former Minister said President J.A. Kufuor signaled the start of the projects by cutting the sod for construction to begin on one of the fishing harbours in James Town.

She said the James Town project was estimated at US$16.5 million, and all the projects together amounted to US$148 million. "How did we arrive at all these figures if we were just dreaming?" she added.

She wondered how the Deputy Minister could say the NPP was only exhibiting a dream, saying "even for the cold stores the equipment arrived in the country in 2008. They are unable to raise revenue because they cannot be trusted and that's why they are claiming ours as theirs".

He said all documents on the project were made available to the current Administration.

On the naval boats which Nii Amassah claimed the Mills Administration paid for through the Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Asmah recalled that the process of their acquisition commenced in 2006.

"Those boats are not like cars which you can just go and stand by, and say you want to buy them. It takes three years to build a boat. We negotiated for them after placing an order. We visited china and after some negotiations there and here, an agreement was placed before parliament for approval. All those happened before the Mills administration came into office in January 2009", she explained.

She said "I have said time without number that I personally went to Israel to initiate negotiations for some of these boats. Two of these boats are coming from Britain and the other four are coming from Israel and China respectively".

She recalled that the Vessel Monitoring System of the Agriculture Ministry together with Finance Directors of the Fisheries Ministry were asked to use internally generated funds to start the payment. MOFA went on to make the internally generated fund part of our budgetary allocation".

Source: New Crusading Guide

Appiah Ofori: Mills only pays lip service to fight corruption

PC Appiah Ofori wants President Mills to prosecute corrupt officials
PC Appiah Ofori wants President Mills to prosecute corrupt officials

The Member of Parliament for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, PC Appiah Ofori, is furious no public official under the past and present governments has been prosecuted for corruption in spite of credible evidence of corrupt practices.

According to him, the president only pays lip service to the fight against corruption but lacks the political will to fight the canker.

“He (president) condemns corruption just by word of mouth; that is nothing. And I am calling on him that he should not do it by word of mouth” he told Joy News’ Sammy Darko.

The MP is not impressed with the tall list of past appointees who are at various stages of prosecution for various acts of financial misappropriation under the present government.

He finds it laughable the charge of 'misapplication of funds' leveled against Deputy Ministers Prof Gyan Baffour and Dr Akoto Osei in the management of the TOR debt, saying no Attorney General can secure conviction in the name of corruption.

“If you give me money to pay TOR debt and as a result of problems facing Ghana government in other areas the money is used to do other things, is it stealing, is it corruption? Can you secure corruption prosecution out of it?”

According to PC Appiah Ofori, there are people who engaged in corrupt practices not only ministers who must be prosecuted.

He cited an accountant in the office of a former senior minister’s office who he alleged was engaged in corrupt practices and who must be prosecuted.

He said the audit report is also replete with numerous acts of corruption but which has not been dealt with by the Mills government.

When he was challenged to mention names of corrupt past public officials who deserves prosecution, the MP retorted: “Don’t waste my time; go and read the Auditor General’s Report and you will see them there."

Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Mills: Ghana backs ECOWAS on military action but will not contribute troops

President John Mills during his meeting with journalists at the Castle
President John Mills during his meeting with journalists at the Castle
President John Mills says he will back any decision taken by ECOWAS or AU to solve the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire even if it involves military action.

This is according to Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is on a day’s visit to Ghana to acquaint himself with Ghana’s official position on the troubled West African country.

President John Mills had in a meeting with senior journalists at the Castle stated Ghana is not interested in military action in Cote d’Ivoire and will not contribute troops in the event that ECOWAS adopts a military action.

His comments triggered widespread controversy with critics accusing him of breaking ranks with the ECOWAS.

He had earlier on December 24, 2010 appended his signature to an ECOWAS communiqué by Heads of State in the sub region threatening military action as the last resort if embattled Gbagbo remains intransigent.

Raila Odinga who has been one of ECOWAS’ emissaries in the Ivorian conflict told news men after meeting with President John Mills he is impressed with Ghana’s clarified position.

Confirming, Odinga’s statements to Myjoyonline.com, the Head of Communications at Ghana’s presidency Koku Anyidoho said Ghana fully remains committed to the communiqué signed on December 24.

He said Ghana is signatory to the communiqué and in the unlikely event of a military action, Mills will not go against it but will not be able to contribute troops to the ECOWAS mission for a military action because Ghana’s military is over stretched.

He said Ghana is still interested in the first option which is dialogue but if need be that the military clause contained in the communiqué is to be activated, ECOWAS' decision will be binding.

Koku Anyidoho vehemently objected to criticisms that President Mills has contradicted his earlier position on military action.

Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Mills was ‘humbly excited’ on Cote d'Ivoire ‘vindication’ – Koku

Koku Anyidoho
Koku Anyidoho
 … this matter is a matter of national interest. Sometimes if we can move away from the politics and look at it as a national interest matter, maybe we will score better points… 
Koku Anyidoho, Communications Director at the Presidency
Communications Director at the Presidency, Mr. Koku Anyidoho says President John Evans Atta Mills was happy at the apparent endorsement of his stance not to send personnel from Ghana’s Army to engage in any armed resolution to the election crisis in the Ivory Coast.

Koku told Asempa FM during its Ekosii Senprogramme on Tuesday, that President Mills was happy that his decision found favour with other continental leaders, describing the call not to ‘fight’ in any war in the neighbouring country as a well-thought out decision.

A report by the Head Of Ghana’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations of the monthly consultation meeting of the Africa Group of Ambassadors at the United Nations, convened on Thursday 13th January 2011 at the behest of the African Members and the Security Council indicated an apparent “emerging consensus" from the Council that the military option is "no option".

The meeting, according to the report, also agreed that “the victory of Mr. Alhassane Ouattara as President-elect of Cote d’Ivoire should be respected.”

“Ghana and President Mills have been vindicated” in choosing not to go to ‘war’ but dialogue, dialogue and dialogue, said Koku, who said should any war break out, it is not likely to end anytime soon and that the president would not risk collecting body bags from Cote d’Ivoire as a result of any needless war.

He said Ghana would be part of any peacekeeping efforts but will not take sides in the dispute and commit soldiers to fight in a terrain that only promises chaos, advising that critics of the president who thought they would bring him to shame must now be ashamed of their own actions.

According to Koku, those critics are scampering for cover, advising that “… this matter is a matter of national interest. Sometimes if we can move away from the politics and look at it as a national interest matter, maybe we will score better points…”

Story by Myjoyonline.com

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Ivorian Crisis where does Ghana stand?

The government of Ghana seem confused as to what it should do regarding the impasse going on in Cote D'Ivoire between Gbagbo and Ouattara. There are news reports that the government of Ghana moving closer to endorse Gbagbo or at least accept the legitimacy of his government. When such news paper reports are subjected to further scrutiny the facts do not stand. There are no shred of truth in such reports.

The question however is whether Ghana will be prepared to implement  ECOWAS policies should a decision to unseat Gbagbo by force is taken and whether Ghana is prepared to accept and enforce the legitimacy of Ouattara's election victory. There is no doubt that as a neighbour Ghana needs to be careful on what it does publicly regarding the Ivorian saga but it is also important for Ghana to be seen to work to enforce international policies, and agreement. Walking between this thin line is the nightmare Mills and his government are facing: to stand with her neighbour or to support the international action to unseat Gbagbo. Very nightmarish indeed.

L. A. Adusei

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