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Former Ghanaian First Lady Complains of Harassment

In Ghana, the wife of former President Jerry Rawlings said President John Kufuor’s government is persecuting her family and members of the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings said she was looking forward to retiring from active politics and strengthening the December thirty-first Women’s Movement, a non-governmental organization she founded while her husband was in power.

From the capital Accra she explained to VOA how she and the former president are being harassed.

“Our life would have been okay for me if the political vindictiveness of this government were to stop. Because I was really looking forward to intensifying my work with the movement (31st December Women’s Movement) because I wouldn’t be a first lady anymore…but it hasn’t been so because from 2001, we have had nothing but political harassment from the Kufuor administration,” she noted.

Agyeman-Rawlings said the alleged harassment began when the non-governmental organization she chairs started encountering what she called politically motivated problems.

“It started with the head of security at that time, who was General Hamidu wrote a letter to the movement to declare our assets to him and so on. And we had to explain to him that we are an NGO, so we don’t have to declare our assets to him because we already that with the Social Welfare. So, life has not been as smooth as one had wanted it to be because of political harassment and the lack of justice in the country for us,” she said.

Agyeman-Rawlings rejects claims that her husband was himself a dictator. Instead she said former President Rawlings did a lot for the average Ghanaian, while she chides current President Kufuor for not doing enough for the people.

“I think that my husband as a former president run parallel with the current President Kufuor, they will never meet because my husband believes in the empowerment of the people… he did not work to make himself rich or own properties… on the other hand, Mr. Kufuor wants property owning democracy, and in his attempt to achieve that, there is a lot of corruption going on. Even his own party chairman told the whole country that, that is what was going on. So that is the basic difference between them,” she pointed out.

Agyeman-Rawlings denied there is an even political playing field in the country.

“That is not true at all. If you look at the national newspapers for example, the NDC and other political parties are almost black out… it’s like the national media is a network for the ruling government. And yet it wasn’t like that when my husband was in power. When he was in office, the opposition NPP (New Patriotic Party) were not discriminated against, but today when the opposition holds any demonstration against the government, you would never see it on GBC (Ghana Broadcasting Co-operation),” she pointed out.

Agyeman-Rawlings denied calling President Kufuor a crafty dictator, but said the phrase befits the president.

“I didn’t say that, but I think that it’s a nice phrase, and I would like to use it the next time. You have a situation where you have a president who is always talking about the rule of law and yet from what is going on, it’s a complete misrule of law. While he’s calling somebody a thief, they are busy stealing, while they are talking about somebody’s wrong, they are doing worse. Is that the kind of person that should be running Ghana today after where we reached? We should have taken off in a positive direction instead of moving backwards before we start paddling forward again,” she said.