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General News Tue, 6 Sep 2011

WikiLeaks: Kufuor's Assasination Plot was foiled

Raymond Archer and colleagues had a close-shave as…
After Enquirer exposed Harruna Esseku’s Castle Kickback allegations

News desk report Among staggering revelations captured on the classified diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Ghana by the international whistle blowing website, Wikileak is a chilling story of how President Kuffuor’s plans to assassinate Mr. Raymond Archer an ace investigative journalist and his colleagues after the famous Harruna Esseku tapes which rocked the foundation of his government in 2006 was aborted by a United States official’s timely intervention.

In the cable report attributed to the former US ambassador, to Ghana during the Bush administration, Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, Mr. Kuffour was made to promise that he would never permit anyone in his government to harm Archer or any other journalist after Ambassador Bridgwater placed a call to the President over US concerns on the safety of the Enquirer Editor.

“The meeting followed on the Ambassador's November 29 telephone conversation with the President regarding the safety of Raymond Archer, the Editor of local daily The Enquirer. As Post reported Ref A, Archer secretly recorded NPP party chairman Harona Esseku on tape discussing kickbacks from government contracts, and implicating the President and his top advisors”.

According to a reliable information available to the Republic newspaper, in the events of the kickback scandals exposure barely four years ago, then National Security Capo Mr. Francis Poku informed Mr. Archer of an assassination plot against him and his colleagues and cautioned him play it safe.

The former security Capo who would later fall out with President Kuffour advised Mr. Archer to go into hiding, an advice the Journalist turned down.

The Republic was reliably informed that the assassins were to be recruited from Kumasi in a region noted to have an overwhelming support for the then ruling party, NPP.

What obviously saved Archer’s neck was that that Ambassador Bridgewater urged former President Kuffour nevertheless to stay a neutral course and ensure that Journalists in the country and Archer are protected.

The kickback exposure, arguably one of the most revealing scandals reported by The Enquirer, Ghana’s celebrated investigative newspaper saw Mr. Raymond Archer, and Mr. David Tamakloe, Editor in Chief and a Reporter respectively of the paper captured the National Chairman of Mr. Kuffuor’s rulling party, Mr. Harruna Esseku on tape making revelations of how kickbacks were collected and kept in vaults at the president’s office.

In an attempt to set the ground for his evil agenda, “ Kufuor stated he would never permit anyone in his government to harm Archer or any other journalist, but also noted that Archer had attracted a lot of hatred from private Ghanaians who supported the NPP administration. Ambassador urged him, nevertheless, to stay on course and ensure journalists -- and Archer -- are protected. Kufuor reassured her of his commitment to democracy, rule of law, freedom of the press, and respect for human rights.”

According to the cable report, Ambassador Bridgewater subsequent arranged a meeting with Kuffuor on December 21 and reiterated points delivered during the 11/29 telcon, noting concern for Archer's personal safety and emphasizing the importance of freedom of the press.

The stunning revelations identified as Confidential section 01 0F 03 ACCRA 002619 Was titled “Ghana’s President rejects corruption allegations and dismisses concerns over questionable procurement practices.

Kufuor agreed with Ambassador's statement on the importance of freedom of the press, as well as for ensuring the safety of investigative journalists.

He said his administration had supported press freedom since his election in 2000 -- including "repealing the criminal libel law that Rawlings government used to lock people up" -- and would continue to do so.

According to the cable reports, Kufuor cited the press reporting since the Ambassador's arrival in October as evidence of his government's support for freedom of speech and expression. Based on this period, he said the Ambassador would have to believe Kufuor was a "thief, fool, or doesn't know his left from right," and yet the government fully supported the right of papers such as Archer's Enquirer to publish such allegations.

The meeting nonetheless was the last straw that broke the camel’s back because Ambassador Bridgewater revealed an un-nerving stoy of allegations by the Secretary to the President, D.K Osei that one “Mr. Scott” had been passing money to Archer and warned that Mr Scott the political Chief considered Archer as one of “REGULAR” contacts and noted that the Embassy’s only direct support to Archer was a Public Affairs Section IV grant to study investigative Journalism in the US and warned that any harm to MR. Archer would invoke a holistic displeasure from the US and that might have saved Archer.

Ambassador Bridgwater warned Kufuor of the perception that corruption is worsening in Ghana, and noted U.S. concerns with lack of transparency in government procurement.

Kufuor argued the "perception" was incorrect, reiterated his personal "zero tolerance" for corruption, and disputed claims of mishandled tenders.

He blamed the latest allegations on the disgruntled ex-NPP party Chairman who he described as a “frustrated old man” and the opposition NDC.

Post does not doubt the President's commitment to democracy, rule of law, and press freedom, but we are disappointed by his unwillingness to accept corruption as a problem and take steps to address it.

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Source: The Republic
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