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GHANA





Special Report


Ex-President Kufuor’s post-retirement work has seen him as a peace envoy in Côte d’Ivoire. He is seen here with President Laurent Gbagbo


their sovereign rights because power should issue from them to their leaders. For so long they have been denied, and leaders have carried on regardless of their constitutions, so it’s time the people asserted themselves.


“Regarding medical care, we brought in the National


Health Insurance Scheme, which entitled everybody to healthcare for a whole year on payment of $10.”


is there. And as I say, we had come from dictatorship – a phase that had sat on the nation for 19 years. And so, naturally, when they allow you to have 8 years, and they have a chance, they may not want to put you back in – even if you have served them very well – especially when they believe other people may do just as well.


Q: Do you have any regrets about some of the things that dogged you – perhaps the presidential palace, or the saga of the jet? A: The presidential palace? I never lived there, but I did it because I believe it was the right thing to do. We had been independent for 50 years and we still lived in the slave castle? The Christansborg Castle with the dungeons where our people were kept before being sent across the Atlantic to be slaves. The president of today lives there, but I wouldn’t. Fortunately, the Indian government gave us the credit – very soft credit – to


52 | March 2011 New African


build the new palace, which is a landmark architecturally. Go to Accra. Soon people will pay to go and see it. And it’s not Kufuor’s home. The presidential jet? Yes. A president


these days has to travel – he must go everywhere in pursuit of national service. Should a president of a self-respecting nation be hanging around airports, being jostled here and there? No. That’s unbecoming. I didn’t mind too much for myself, but I knew it shouldn’t be the lot of succeeding presidents.


Q: What do you make of what is happening in Egypt? Do you think it’s good, not just for North Africa but also for sub-Saharan Africa, because it reminds the people that ultimately they are sovereign, and if a leader overstays their welcome they can get them out? A: Yes, because it is long overdue that the people of Africa – in fact people everywhere – are respected and accorded


Q: Some people (here in the UK) say this is a typical African problem, that leaders tend to forget when they are in office, that they are there to serve the people, and that Africa, as a whole, has a long way to go before it can be talked of as a place where human rights and democracy are really respected. A: Such people are perhaps not too abreast with historical evolution around the world. Not too long ago, in South America, there were so many overstaying dictators, also in Asia, and look even at the communist world – their leaders stayed on and on, indefinitely. Most African countries are no more than 50 years old as independent nations. Yes, there have been presidents overstaying, but I believe what’s happening is global – not just African. People everywhere are rising up to demand their fair rights and acknowledgement as the source of power.


Q: Some people were surprised when the Mo Ibrahim Foundation didn’t give you the award for outstanding governance last year or the year before. Did you see that as a bit of an insult given that you look upon your own record pretty fondly? A: Let me tell you, I didn’t go into politics for awards. I went to serve the people and I’m happy that I had the privilege to serve. And even now, as I walk around the country, I’m hailed. Everywhere I go, I’m acknowledged. If I hadn’t served well, they wouldn’t afford me these affections and honours. During my tenure, Ghana came to be


hailed internationally as a beacon of good governance, stability and development. I believe I’m entitled to take credit for that. If the judges at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation had awarded me, I tell you, it would only have been the icing on the cake, because the achievement was already there. But I don’t know what [yardstick they used to] determine the winners. So if they don’t accord Kufuor, that’s


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