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Rawlings quizzed over murder allegations
Reports on Ethnic Relations  /  Rapports sur les relations éthniques

The following section is consisted of part, full or summaries of articles from diverses sources (newspapers, newsletters, etc...).
La section suivante est constituée d'exraits, de la totalité ou de résumés d'articles provenant d'origines diverses (journaux,bulletins, etc..).


06 / 12 / 2003

IRIN

The article: "Rawlings quizzed over murder allegations"

Police have questioned former president Jerry Rawlings over his recent allegations that some ministers in Ghana's current government were involved in the serial killing of women that gripped the West African country between 1994 and 2001.

Rawlings said last week he had information that 15 Ministers in President John Kufuor's cabinet had a direct hand in the murders of 34 women over a seven-year period.while he himself was head of state. Rawlings made the allegations at a public forum to commemorate the 24th anniversary of a coup that brought him to power for the first time on June 4, 1979.

Police questioned Rawlings about his claims at his residence in Accra on Wednesday, but the former head of state refused to give any specific names.

A spokesman for Rawlings said afterwards: "Mr. Rawlings said he will only reveal the names of those Ministers if the government will invite an independent investigator to conduct a lie-detector test on him and those implicated in order minimize the telling of lies in the case. If these conditions are accepted, he is ready to reveal the names today."

Ghana's Inspector General of Police, Nana Owusu-Nsiah, said he was "profoundly disappointed with the utterances and conduct of the former president."

He said in a statement that police had conducted thorough investigations over nine years, which eventually led to the arrest and capture of a serial killer, who pleaded guilty to murdering eight of the women.

The police chief accused Rawlings of being obsessed with "chemical interrogations" and "lie-detector tests", which had very little significance in "real, dogged, painstaking criminal investigations."

Police Sources told IRIN that the Ghana Police Service does not have a lie-detector. But they stressed that it was the civic duty of the former president to boldly come up with the truth on the serial killings if he had the interest of the country at heart.

Rawlings made the allegations against leading members of Kufuor's ruling New Patriotic Party at a time when he is widely expected to be called to give evidence before Ghana's National Reconciliation Commission about the alleged torture and murder of political activists during his own period of nearly 20 years in power.

The commission was set up by Kufuor's government last year to investigate allegations of human rights abuse during the long periods of military rule which Ghana has endured since independence from Britain in 1957.

Rawlings ruled Ghana for several months after leading a coup in 1979. He came to power again in a second coup in 1982 and was subsequently elected president in 1992 and 1996. Rawlings chose not to contest the presidential elections of 2000 which brought Kufuor to power.

06 / 05 / 2003

IRIN

The article: "Roundtable deliberations start at Liberian talks"

The Liberian government and one of two rebel movements fighting to overthrow President Charles Taylor began talks on ending the country's four-year-old civil war in the Ghanaian town of Akuse on Thursday.

Liberia's main political parties and civic organisations meanwhile gathered for parallel talks on ways of restoring democracy to the country in the nearby town of Akosombo. Liberia has suffered from conflict intermittently since 1989, when Taylor launched a guerrilla war that eventually brought him to power. Rebel forces now control more than half the country.

Taylor said at the opening ceremony of the peace talks in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Wednesday that he would consider stepping down as head of state as part of efforts to end the current conflict.

However, the negotiations began against a background of intensified fighting on the ground and only one rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), which controls much of northern Liberia, has so far shown up.

LURD's informal ally, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), which has seized much of southeastern Liberia since it first appeared in March, said it would not attend the talks because it was not given enough time to prepare and send a delegation.

However, Ghana's Foreign Minister, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, said he believed MODEL would eventually show up at Akuse, a small town 80km north of Accra. "Don't put too much to it if MODEL is not here today. This is just the opening," he told IRIN. "If they are not here today, I'm very confident that they will surely make it later. We are working on that."

Some key players in the peace talks described MODEL's absence as a real setback.

Liberian Foreign Minister Monie Captan told IRIN: "Any intransigence on the part of anyone to attend these talks should encourage the international community to take a decisive action against that organisation."

The leader of the opposition Liberian Unity Party, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, described MODEL's absence as most disappointing. "The ceasefire is the first on the agenda. We have to appeal to them to reconsider their position and join us in Ghana," she told IRIN.

James Victor Gbeho, former Ghanaian foreign minister who was actively involved in brokering peace among the various warring Liberian factions in 1997, expressed some optimism that MODEL would eventually join the talks, which are expected to last about two weeks.

"I am sure President John Kufuor and his team are seriously working to bring them in later. I will advise that they be brought into the negotiations so that the end result of the peace talks will have the support of every stakeholder," Gbeho told IRIN.

Diplomats and relief workers say LURD is backed by Guinea, whereas MODEL is strongly supported by Cote d'Ivoire.

The talks opened at a high profile ceremony in Accra attended by several African presidents, including Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

It went ahead despite an announcement by the UN-backed Special Court in Sierra Leone, that it had indicted Taylor for war crimes because of his support for rebels that devastated Sierra Leone in a 10-year civil war.

The court said on Wednesday morning it had sent a warrant to the Ghanaian authorities for Taylor's arrest. However, the Ghanaian authorities said they had not seen the warrant and allowed the Liberian president to fly home a few hours later.

In a surprise move, Taylor said on Wednesday that he was prepared to step down if necessary to secure peace. "I will remove myself from whatever process that continues to perpetuate conflict in Liberia. If it would bring peace, I will remove myself as President," he told the opening session of the peace talks."Let a process be put in place that will ensure a smooth transition from war to peace...The presidency is not important to me."

LURD Spokesperson, Kabineh Ja'neh told IRIN his group would make a formal statement later on Thursday at Akosombo. "I am happy to be in Ghana," he said.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called a ceasefire to enable the talks to proceed. His Special Representative to Liberia, Abou Moussa, said: "As a first step forward, all parties need to agree on a cease-fire and an end to violence. Liberian Leaders must demonstrate a genuine and concrete readiness to restore peace and stability to their country. The single most burning issue is the need for a binding ceasefire to stop the bloodshed and facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflict."

While Liberian government officials and rebel representatives discussed a ceasefire and a political settlement in Akuse, the representatives of Liberian political parties and civic organisations gathered 20 km away in Akosombo, to draw up an agenda for political reform. Their discussions were expected to focus on presidential elections, due on October 14.

Meanwhile Liberian women continued a series of demonstrations in Accra, to draw attention to the plight of women and refugees affected by the civil war. On Wednesday, representatives of the 50,000 Liberian refugees living in Ghana demonstrated in front of Taylor's hotel.

Leymah Gbowee, the Ghana country coordinator of the Liberia Chapter of the Women's Peace Building Network, told IRIN: "The message we are sending across is that we are tired of war, we are tired of running, we are tired of hunger and we are tired of a few persons who are determining the nature of our destiny."

Gbowee said the absence of MODEL in Ghana should not obstruct the talks. "All we can hope for is that the international community will play a more forceful role in ensuring that lasting peace comes back to Liberia, whether or not MODEL is here for the talks," she said.

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Other data on Ghana / Autres données sur le Ghana