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Ghana: President Atta Mills up against his own party?

In the months leading to the election of President John Evans Atta Mills, many Ghanaians, including those abroad, feared that a New Democratic Congress (NDC) win would morph into another reign by the party’s founder and former military ruler, President Jerry John Rawlings. The transition was smooth, and the relationship between Presidents Rawlings and Mills, seemed cordial.  

JJ Rawlings, an unofficial blog site created to highlight the work and thoughts of the former president posted a positive report on May 18, 2009 about President Rawlings’ trip to South Africa on behalf of President Mills. It reported:

President Mills thanked President Rawlings for representing Ghana at the inauguration and assured him that there would be follow up measures to take advantage of the opportunities for mutually beneficial relations between Ghana and South Africa.

But lately, tensions have been rising between President Mills and other members of the NDC party including President Rawlings.

Ato Kwamena Dadzie recently wrote in his post, “A President Under Siege“:

President Mills is under siege. No doubt about that. He has become such an easy target that an increasing number of people are baying to take a hit at him. What is most intriguing is that the heaviest hitters are people within his own party. The opposition can take a vacation.

Just last week, it was the majority leader in parliament, Alban Bagbin. He said the president, who likes to portray himself as a humble sheep, has surrounded himself with aides and confidantes who behave like foxes, hyenas and lions. These people, according to Mr. Bagbin, tend to intimidate and harass anyone who tries to offer some useful counsel to the president.

Days before Mr. Bagbin’s comment, the man who transformed the then Prof. Mill from a taxman to a politician, Jerry John Rawlings, and a group of constituency chairmen of the ruling party were expressing indignation at how the president been conducting himself in office.

Mr. Rawlings believes strongly that his protégé has employed incompetent ‘bastards’ who have taken advantage of their proximity to power to satisfy their selfish interests.

A blog entry posted early this year on Vibe Ghana reported that:

Kwesi Pratt, social critic and Managing Editor of The Insight, has taken a swipe at former President Jerry John Rawlings for putting spokes in the smooth running of the administration of President John Evans Atta Mills.

According to him, Jerry Rawlings’ utterances about the administrative style of the current president are not only embarrassing, but also insulting to the intelligence of the law professor.  

A comment in response to this post by someone named Prince, said:

I think ex-President Rawlings would do himself and the NDC party a world of good if he behaves in a more stately manner—after all it's just a probation period of 4years–any impression of Atta Mills being a stooge and not his own man would spell doom for the NDC party as a whole and Rawlings in particular.

Ghana Pundit  recently posted an article about President Rawlings’ response to the current debate:

It would be out of place to allow the NPP that has been rejected by Ghanaians to tell us what we should do. If all members of the NDC and the Members of Parliament have openly come out to express their feelings, then the NPP that has been rejected would have nothing to say.

The same post included a comment by Kofi Adams, spokesman for the former president:

Mr. Kofi Adams said Rawlings believes there is need for individuals within the party to hold the government and its appointees accountable instead of their opponents in the New Patriotic Party (NPP).  

Adams goes on to say:

It is good for the party. It will be bad for the NPP to tell us what to do after they have been rejected and if all party legislators and others have come to the realization to let President Mills know about the feelings of party members and Ghanaians, it is good for us.

This is because, if we allow the NPP to continue to tell us, it would be like a university graduate being corrected by class six pupils.

Ato Kwamena Dadzie has received over 70 responses to his post, “A President Under Siege?”  Essuman-Cape Coast, one of the responders wrote:

Our journalists have failed us, when NPP set up an employment agency in their Greater Accra Regional office and used it to get their foot-soldiers employed nobody asked questions(find out from Kojo Asante-CDD). Go check the loan defaulters of NPP's MASLOC and LEAP credit facilities and it would shock you that they are all card-bearing NPP supporters. NDC supporters are aware of all the above machinations of the NPP and it would be suicidal for Mills to ignore those who fought hard for him to become president. The way Mills manages the aspirations of his own supporters and Ghanaians in general is the solution to these problems. However, let me state that, some of the NDC Gurus are behaving like children. Words like Mediocre, Team B and Greedy Bastards are coming from ourselves. I am well-paid but I just won't allow my boss to insult me everyday. Does anyone believe that under JJ, every NDC foot-soldier was o.k., certainly not but no-one incited them against him. I can agree that Mills has been slow on only one thing, that is, not arresting Molbila's killers earlier in January 2009 only for one of them to run away. Mills would succeed and this cycle of voilence visited on defeated parties after elections would cease.

Ato Kwamena responded saying:

This country is not for any group of soldiers – be they on foot or in humvees! After all the NPP did (who didn't know MASLOC and LEAP were for partisan sorts?) their foot soldiers complained that Kufuor didn't do enough for them. What do they want? A gold concession or the oil fields?

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