Opinions Tue, 10 Jul 2007

Why Qathafi is Furious With Kufour

The failure of the just-ended Accra African Union Summit to agree to the immediate formation of a continental federal government for Africa has angered Libyan leader Muamar Qathafi. Much of the anger is directed at President John Kufour of Ghana who received a generous sum of US$50million from Libya to organize the AU Summit.

During a visit to Libya earlier this year the Ghanaian President and current President of the AU requested for financial assistance to host the AU summit in Accra. Mr. Qathafi agreed on condition Mr. Kufour would lend unflinching support for the Libyan proposal for the immediate formation of a federal government for Africa. Having received full assurances from the Ghanaian leader, Qathafi released US$50million some of which he carried in cash personally to Accra.

The first signs that Kufour was about to renege on the agreement came when Qathafi was denied a seat on the podium at the opening ceremony. On arrival in Accra for the meeting, Qathafi had been reassured by his host that he would be seated on the podium. Having doled out US$50m Qathafi believed he would receive preferential treatment. He is after all primus inter pares. Or so he thinks. Mr. Kufour would however have the last laugh. For behind the back of Qathafi, he had given go ahead to a seating plan that placed the Libyan leader on the main floor. Seating is done in accordance with AU protocol and diplomats say it was improper for Mr. Kufour to even promise the Libyan strong man special seating arrangement. “A host President cannot act unilaterally” said an AU official. In the event Qathafi failed to turn up for the opening ceremony.

Then came the Grand Debate itself and Qathafi was counting on the Ghanaian President. Unknown to the Libyan leader however, his Ghanaian counterpart had switched sides. He had made common cause with advocates of the gradualist approach even though he tried to mask it. Kufour’s prevarication irked Qathafi as he had received assurances from his host that he had personally lobbied majority of the leaders attending the Summit to support the Africa Unity Now group. In fairness to President Kufour, the issues at play were beyond his comprehension and the best he could produce was a balancing act that did not always endear him to Qathafi and the radical group.

Despite its inconclusive outcome, Ghana’s President Kufour regards the AU Summit as a personal triumph since as host; he was a center of attraction. There was a busy buzz around President Kufour during the Summit meeting but as the international TV channel France 24 put it, “it was much ado about nothing”. A member of the South African delegation gave his verdict: ‘this moment belongs to Nkrumah. Africa is missing the man’s mastery of the continent, depth of analysis and decisiveness”.

One diplomat opined that for all his long political experience, Mr. Kufour “lacks clarity of thought. He is always in an indecent haste to say yes to every financial-related opportunity.” A protégé of the increasingly unpopular US President George Bush, Mr. Kufour administers his country the way an imperial lord does. All state institutions are at his beck and call, and critics say he has used promises of promotion as well as financial largesse to corrupt Ghana’s Judiciary.

The Libyan leader regularly makes donations to other African countries hosting conferences in which Libya has political and ideological interest. The donation of US $50milion towards the Accra AU Summit may represent Qathafi’s biggest donation so far. Formation of a Federal Union government for Africa is the pet project of Qathafi.

In Ghana, news of the US$50 million payout to Kufour is bound to raise eyebrows. There will be public demands for accountability from a government strongly perceived to be inherently and immorally corrupt. As one Ghanaian diplomat put it under condition of anonymity “Ghanaian taxpayers have already paid for the cost of the conference so Qathafi’s money is bonanza for the big men. The Libyans can’t own up for obvious reasons and Ghana government officials will ask you - where is the proof?”

By Dr. Mrs. Manuela Torris
– Independent Correspondent, Norfolk, Virginia

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Torris, Manuela