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General News Wed, 1 Jan 2003

Rawlings and Mills Reject Govt's Protocol Gifts

FORMER president J. J. Rawlings and former vice-president and flagbearer of the NDC, Prof John Evans Atta Mills, have declined drinks presented to them by the State Protocol on the occasion of the Christmas celebrations.

According to a source, officials of the State Protocol sent a quantity of assorted drinks to the residence of former president Rawlings on the occasion of the Yuletide.

The source said a security official at the residence allowed the protocol official to deliver the drinks after consultations with former president Rawlings.

However, after a short discussion with someone who appeared to be a female, the former president allegedly gave instructions that he was unable to accept the drinks.

In the case of Prof Mills, the source alleged that before the protocol officials arrived at the residence of Prof Mills, information had been communicated to him about the intended donation and he was advised to decline the offer.

Speaking in an interview, Mr Victor Smith, Special Aide to former president Rawlings, confirmed that the former president declined the drinks but indicated that certain aspects of the story had been fabricated to create a misleading impression and score cheap political points.

He said the State Protocol officials came to the residence to deliver assorted drinks but a security official asked them to wait at the gate for him to consult former president Rawlings. While the security official was in the process of consultation, another security official who was oblivious of the fact that his colleague was seeking clearance, allowed the protocol officials into the residence to deliver the drinks.

Mr Smith explained that while the protocol officials were in the process of unloading the drinks from the vehicle, the other security official had been told by the former president that he was unable to accept the drinks and gave instructions for the information to be conveyed to the protocol officials.

He further explained that the former president declined the offer from the State Protocol because of the way he has been treated by the government. He said there have been conscious efforts to damage the reputation of the former leader, locally and internationally.

Mr Smith said the allegation that information was communicated to Professor Mills not to accept the offer is a spin and calculated to create the impression that the flagbearer of the NDC is not his own man. Reacting, Presidential Spokesman and Press Secretary, Mr Kwabena Agyepong, said Christmas is a season of goodwill and, therefore, the former leader should have accepted the drinks in the spirit of the season and its values.

He described as unfortunate and disappointing, the rejection of a well-intended offer by the former president from the office he once occupied. Mr Agyepong said since President J. A. Kufuor assumed office, it has been his avowed aim to foster unity, harmony and peace in the country.

He said the President believes that political opponents are not enemies and that the beauty of the current democratic dispensation is the celebration of diversity in the national body politic.“It is in view of those values that President Kufuor invited the leadership of the Minority and Majority in Parliament to the Castle for an interaction to send clear signals that leaders in the different political parties are not at war,” he said.

The presidential spokesman said it is suprising that former vice-president and NDC flagbearer, Prof Atta Mills should decline a generous and well-meaning offer, especially during the occassion of Christmas and at the time there is the need to send signals to underscore the importance of national cohesion and harmony.

“The behaviour of the former leaders poisons the peace of the Christmas season,” he said.

Mr Agyepong said it is the conviction of President Kufuor that as a nation there is the need to forge a new era devoid of hatred, rancour and bitterness. The former Vice president or any of his aides could not be reached for their comments.

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Source: Graphic
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