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General News Thu, 15 Nov 2001

Rawlings talks to the Independent

....about his former bodyguard, Media and Pres Kufuor
Former President, Jerry John Rawlings has for the first time in a long time, granted an interview to a private-owned newspaper, the Independent.

According to the paper, “but for a sudden power outage barely fifteen minutes into the interview, Rawlings would have bared his heart out on a range of issues.”

“You can ask me any question you want. No in fact, you should interrogate me,” the former president told the journalist the moment he entered the room in his Ridge residence where the interview took place.

Rawlings kept referring to the harassment of his bodyguards in the interview. “I wish Kuntoh were here for you to listen to what he has been going through, from him personally,” he told the paper.

One of his guards, who was in the room with us, chipped in: “Apparently, they suggested to Kuntoh that he should leave the country.”

Rawlings who was obviously hearing the news for the first time retorted, “That would be the worst mistake he could make.”

It was obvious, according to the paper; from the interaction that the former president’s relationship with his bodyguards is not a master-servant one; but one of a close, personal friendship.

The former president also revealed that he had once been told by some foreign security consultants, when he was president, that it would be easy for a bomb to be placed near where the traffic policeman stands at the crossroads leading to the Castle Drive.

In an obvious conciliatory gesture, he said, “You should let President Kufuor know this.” It was clear according to the paper that his one problem was the fact that the disarming of his bodyguards had created a feeling of insecurity in him.

Rawlings disclosed that a few incidents have recently occurred that have been designed to serve as an excuse to eliminate him. He narrated an incident in the Limann era in which a door was left ajar when he was once detained, in the hope that he would escape and consequently be eliminated.

According to former president Rawlings, for 20 years, he had had to keep an eye on the security situation in the country and that perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, it is tenable to say this kept his attention from other areas of governance.

This situation the former president said, made it impossible for him to be on top of certain situations like the Sam Jonah-AGC crisis, for example.

At one point, the paper says Rawlings said humorously, “Akufo-Addo (the Attorney General and Minister of Justice) talked about a trial on Kwaku Sakyi Addo’s television programme, perhaps they will continue with the 15th May, 1979 trial.”

“Just as we got to the fifteen minute mark in our encounter, the lights went out in the neighbourhood compelling us to agree to reschedule the interview. Well, chief, we will probably have to continue this some other time don’t you think so?” said the former President from the pitch-darkness of the room.


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