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Ghana's Former President Denies Coup Allegations

In Ghana, former President Jerry John Rawlings has denied allegations he is planning a coup. Ghana's current president made the accusation this week at a campaign rally.

Relations between Ghana President John Kufuor and his predecessor have been strained since Rawlings handed over power in 2001, after a democratic election.

Rawlings, who came to power in a 1981 military uprising, and later won two democratic elections, challenged President Kufuor to provide proof of an alleged coup plot.

President Kufuor made the allegations at a party rally Tuesday, saying Rawlings was soliciting funds from an oil-rich country to overthrow President Kufuor's New Patriotic Party government.

Rawlings described the allegations as so wild and off the mark that it gave no credibility to the Kufuor government's intelligence service.

"I have said all kinds of things, all over the world, and I will continue to do so, as he says. But not once, have I asked for a coup against this regime," he said. "Even here, you know, he knows that I have been telling the commanders that you must call this government to order, not to make a coup, call them to order."

Rawlings said he has been traveling to several Middle East countries in regards to a proposed economic forum.

Rawlings accused the Kufuor government of attacking him to distract the nation's attention from a series of corruption and illicit drug scandals.

Speaking at a news conference, former president Rawlings also criticized the West, in particular the United States, for overlooking the corruption in Kufuor's government.

"[President] Bush's credibility sadly is at stake. Why is it at stake? Because some day, there is no doubt in my mind, that the world will also ask that, 'How could you have possibly invited such a corrupt man in Ghana, and heap praises upon him as a man of vision, as a man who is fighting corruption and all these things?," he said.

President Kufuor visited Washington in August, and signed a $547 million aid accord with the United States, under the Bush administration's Millennium Challenge program. The initiative ties funding to good governance and anti-corruption commitments by recipient states.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised President Kufuor for his international role.