Founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Jerry John Rawlings says the late former President Prof John Evans Atta Mills wanted to forego seeking re-election in 2008 due to his medical state.
This, is Mr Rawlings’ response to claims by the former Local Government Minister Prof Kwamena Ahwoi that there was an active plot to replace Mr. Mills as NDC Flagbearer.
Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi in his book, ‘Working with Rawlings’, had claimed that the NDC founder Jerry John Rawlings had wanted his brother Ato Awhoi to contest President Mills in the NDC flagbearer race.
Prof. Ahwoi alleges that Mr Rawlings argued that this move was in the best interest of the NDC. This is said to have taken place in the year 2006.
President Rawlings had, prior to the 2000 elections, endorsed his Vice president, Prof. Mills to lead the NDC. Prof. Ahwoi said as of 2006 a lot had changed and Mr Rawlings had other plans.
“Jerry Rawlings invited Ato [Ato Ahwoi] to his Ridge residence and prevailed on him to contest the presidential primaries against Prof. Mills. Ato says he was astounded because Jerry knew his relationship with Prof. Mills and also knew the role that he had played in 1996 in convincing Prof. Mills to agree to become his running mate.”
Mr. Rawlings in a detailed response issued by his office claims this move took place shortly after he had received a call from Prof. Mills informing him of his desire not to contest anymore due to ill health.
Portions of the statement issued by the office reads;
Mills’ private call to Rawlings
After his landslide victory in the 2006 NDC Primaries, candidate Mills travelled to South Africa for medical treatment. While in South Africa, Mills put a call through to President Rawlings and indicated his desire to forego the candidature for the presidential election owing to his medical state. Following this conversation, President Rawlings held a meeting with some leading members of the Party to express concern about the state of candidate Mills’ health, and urged them to identify recognizable party members who could step in. President Rawlings is on record as having suggested that some known personalities in the party should position themselves to demonstrate that the NDC had enough Presidential material.
Bizarrely, Kwamena Ahwoi has written a lengthy diatribe about how Rawlings coerced his brother (Ato Ahwoi) to contest Mills ahead of the primaries, leading to the breakdown of their healthy relationship. It should be stated on record, that President Rawlings took the responsible and pragmatic approach after he received that politically unnerving call from Professor Mills. He consulted the Party leadership to take strategic steps to fill the gap which by Professor Mills’ account was imminent.
Urging some members of the Party to position themselves for a potential contest, was in no way an attempt to undermine, sabotage, betray or malign Professor Mills as the author shamelessly infers in his book. More disappointing is the impression created that he was and is unaware of that critical phone call from Professor Mills (while in South Africa) to President Rawlings. It is rather telling of him to deny this well-known crisis merely in his bid to deride and denigrate the genuine efforts of former President Rawlings to arrest a crisis.
When Professor Mills returned to Ghana, meetings were held with him without the knowledge or participation of President Rawlings, where Professor Mills was convinced by those present, not to withdraw his candidature and actually made to believe that President Rawlings was working to undermine him. That, was when the mistrust begun, and Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi was and is well-known to be one of the master-architects of that manipulative agenda that pushed a very unwell candidate Mills into the 2008 General Elections. “