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JJ Missing At Madrid Club


JJ Rawlings

JJ Rawlings

The Madrid Club, the largest forum of former Presidents and Prime Ministers dedicated to strengthening democratic values around the world, yesterday started a two-day roundtable conference for the Africa Region in Accra.

The conference, which is discussing the African regional perspective on the political dimensions of the world economic crisis, saw in attendance former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor (Ghana), Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania), Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria), and Percival Noel James Petterson (Jamaica).

But conspicuously missing from the list of respectable former leaders was former President Jerry John Rawlings. Even though Ghana is hosting the programme, Jerry, who is one of the most senior former leaders on the continent, was not at the opening ceremony.

No official reason was given by the organizers for his absence, but the former President’s spokesperson, Kofi Adams, told Joy FM that Rawlings was not invited to the event even though he was a member.

Adams, who struggled with his explanations, added that his boss was engaged in what he described as ‘equally important assignments’ in the country, but political observers suggested his absence could be more deliberate than the mere none-inclusion the spokesperson had said.

Giving a keynote address on the opening day, Vice President John Dramani Mahama, said it was unfortunate that at a time the African continent was making positive strides in economic stability and entrenching democracy, the efforts were being stifled by very perilous global threats, including food and fuel crises, climatic change, global economic recession, which together were having a toll on trade, foreign direct investment, remittances, and overall aid levels.

According to him, it was unfortunate that even though Africa had contributed least to the global recession and environmental pollution, she was suffering most for these dangers.

Vice President Mahama said this year alone, direct remittances in Ghana dropped by over $70 million. He also cited the withdrawal of a £1.9 million annual support from the British Government to the Ghana Armed Forces due to the recession.  “From this standpoint, the crisis has been most hurtful. The global financial crisis has imposed heavy burdens on African nations, especially in view of our existing vulnerabilities.

Our existing capacity to manage the crisis as individual nations and as a continent is being stretched to impossible limits,” he said.  He attributed some of the deepening woes of the continent to certain difficulties some developed countries were grappling with at home.

“Development partners’ commitment to scale up development assistance, and even the actual disbursement of resources promised before the global crisis, have seriously lagged in a situation where the same partners are understandably pre-occupied with addressing their own domestic and regional economic and social problems”.  He however expressed optimism, saying that Ghana’s resolve to meet the aspirations of her people would not be shaken.

“As we in Ghana have shown, many African nations remain committed to the pursuit of our goal agenda to deepen democratic governance and promote human rights. We are committed to expanding social protection programmes and reducing poverty”.

Vice President Mahama called for the breakdown of political barriers in Africa so as to enhance the free movement of people on the continent.  Speaking briefly to the media after the opening ceremony, former Presidents Kufuor and Obasanjo expressed the hope that the conference would certainly have a positive impact when the entire club meets in Madrid.

Former President Mkapa, for his part, called on incumbent governments on the continent to accept whatever recommendations the club makes in good faith for the benefit of the people on the continent.


Source: modernghana

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