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General News
Resignation Galore: What About Aliu? 6/18/2007
President John Agyekum Kufuor was expected to call another meeting Wednesday, the day after he discussed with seven of eight of his minister-aspirants the option of resigning to pursue their campaigns or abandoning that ambition to remain as a Minister. But, the issues were not that simple.

According to sources, very pertinent counter issues were raised by all the Ministers, who at least agreed on one thing: they had done nothing untoward to be asked to resign at this stage. In any event, the pursuit of their individual presidential ambitions is rather motivating them to even push harder to succeed.

Notably vociferous among them were Alan Kyerematen, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Nana Akufo-Addo, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang and Felix Owusu-Adjapong, according to sources. While some, if not all of them are said to be prepared to quit their portfolios, principled arguments were made by all against the suggested mass resignation.

So, the President adjourned the meeting for it to be continued the next day for those issues to be addressed. However, he left for Abuja to attend an ECOWAS meeting the next day without calling the meeting. This led some of the Ministers to loosely conclude that their resignation letters were still expected this week as first intimated to them.

But, information reaching The Statesman at the weekend indicates that this crunch second meeting may come off as early as today.

First, there were two other interested parties missing from that Tuesday meeting at the Castle. Defence Minister Kwame Addo-Kufuor is said to have earlier met his elder brother that morning at the President''s West Airport residence.

The other interested party who was missing is Vice President Aliu Mahama. The appearance and views of the two men are seen as climacteric to closing the issue. Dr Addo-Kufuor is expected to add his strong voice to that of the seven others in disagreeing with the resignation option.

The main and most difficult issue to be delved into at the pending meeting can be articulated thus: ''Why should we resign and leave the Vice President alone to enter the contest as an office holder? It is manifestly unfair; it sins against the rules of equity; especially, when he is out there canvassing no less than any other candidate."

Also, The Statesman can speculate that a compromise may be reached as argued in the column ‘Pulling No Punches’ today. The argument is that the President’s hands are tied to a point by the fact that Parliament rises on Friday, July 27 and is not expected back until Tuesday, October 16.

The New Patriotic Party is expected to open nominations September 15. If minister-aspirants go ahead and file immediately after it would create a constitutional crisis, since the party constitution demands of them a resignation upon filing. Also, Parliament would not be there to vet those appointed to replace them as Ministers.

In the view of our Editor-in-Chief, who writes the column under the pen name Qanawu Gabby, the President should, at this week’s meeting, simply demand an undertaking from his minister-aspirants that they desist from filing their nomination papers until Parliament returns and leave them to remain at post, at least, until then.

As reported in The Saturday Statesman, immediately after Fathia Nkrumah was laid to rest last Tuesday, some Cabinet Ministers were called individually to come to the Castle. It soon became apparent that the emergency gathering was limited to minister-aspirants. Seven of them were there. The President spoke to them as a group.

The President is said to have spoken for about an hour to the seven at the Castle meeting. One of them is said to have argued that he felt like he’d been hounded out of office. They all cited the party constitution. This, in fact allows them to stay filing until one month before the contest. The contest to elect the 2008 NPP flagbearer is still some six months away.

Ministers, normally considered to be strong Kufuor loyalists, according to our sources, did not take the message from the President lying down at all.

But, according to another source, though the meeting was intermittently heated, "It was altogether a frank discussion." Another source added, "The President called them to have a sincere discussion about the way forward. He made them understand the difficult situation they were all in, particularly in balancing their work and campaign and threw out to them the option of either remaining as committed Ministers or as committed aspirants."

President Kufuor at an NPP National Executive Committee meeting in April, informed the party that he intended to call all Minister-aspirants to have a ‘frank but stern’ chat with them about their campaigns. The President, at that time had shown some anxiety about the prospect of dirty campaigns among the aspirants.

The Ministers who are expected to resign are Alan Kyerematen (Trade & Industry), Kwame Addo-Kufuor (Defence), Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey (Tourism), Felix Owusu-Agyapong (Parliamentary Affairs and Majority Leader), Papa Owusu-Ankomah (Education & Sports), Mike Oquaye (Communications), Hackman Owusu-Agyemang (Water Resources, Works & Housing), and Nana Akufo-Addo of Foreign Affairs.

The Statesman

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