Former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings says long-term friends of Ghana such as Russia and China owe it a duty to make known their observations about political developments in the country “on account of the bumpy roads we have been through in the past”.
He said Ghana is going through challenges with its multi-party democratic process and “we need support and advice from our friends. We owe it to the future of our relationships.”
The former President was speaking when he met the Russian and Chinese Ambassadors at separate meetings at his Ridge office in Accra on Wednesday.
Speaking to the Russian Ambassador, Mr. Vladimir Barbin, the former President said Ghana is still seen as African pacesetter and that opportunity will be wasted if countries such as Russia hold back on raising concerns about areas of our political development that may not be heading in the right direction.
“Ghana cannot waste its role as a pacesetter and should be encouraged to maintain the standards that made it a pacesetter so Africa can gain strength from the example we have to offer,” President Rawlings said.
Earlier Mr. Barbin, who assumed office in February 2010, said Russia sees Ghana as a good friend and had always held Ghana in high regard. He said his country would continue to support Ghana’s infrastructural development, particularly in the oil, liquid gas and agricultural sectors.
The Ambassador disclosed that Russian companies were already in Ghana drilling for oil and gas with some good prospects. He said he has already held discussions with the Energy Ministry, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and the Volta River Authority (VRA) on potential cooperation in the energy sector.
Mr. Barbin said Russia was also exploring areas of cooperation in the agricultural sector as several companies from his country had expressed interest in large scale farming because of the friendly weather climate.
Speaking to the new Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Gong Jianzhong, former President Rawlings said he had been posted to the country at a complex and trying period for the country. He commended China for the economic support it had offered Ghana over the years and said, “We are duty bound to build on the relationship between the two countries.”
The former President recalled the indignity Chinese were subjected to after Nkrumah’s overthrow and also reminded them they have a political obligation to make suggestions and offer advice where they clearly see that our political path is going wayward.
Flt Lt Rawlings said: “While China is making steady progress we [Ghana] have staggered.” He also spoke of the energy and sacrifice Ghanaians had endured since 1979 and said while capitalism has its positive effects it has presently made the rich exceedingly rich and impoverished many more.
Earlier the Mr. Jianzhong who is undertaking his first posting to Africa said prior to being appointed to Ghana he had heard “good stories” about China’s enduring relationship with Ghana and said he was honoured to be posted to Ghana.
The Chinese Ambassador said Chinese shared the joy and pains of Ghanaians during the 2010 World Cup stating that the fighting spirit of the youthful Black Stars particularly impressed his countrymen. “Chinese do feel proud of Ghana,” he added.
Vice-Chairman of the National Democratic Congress, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings accompanied her husband at both meetings.