How Britain helped NPP win elections

Mr. Craig Murray arrived in Ghana in January 1999 to assume duty as the deputy British High Commissioner. He was in Ghana during the crucial 2000 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

He has now retired from the British Foreign Service and has written a 219-page book ‘The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and Other Conflicts I Have Known’.

A chapter in the book tells how the British government conspired to push then President Jerry John Rawlings and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government out of power through the 2000 elections. The September, 2010 issue of the AFRICAWATCH has a seven-page article on that chapter in Murray’s book.

The introduction to the article states: “Many people did not believe Jerry Rawlings when, after his retirement as president of Ghana in 2000, he kept telling all who had ears to hear that some powerful countries had plotted his downfall in the last years of his 18-year rule (first, as a military head of state for 10 years, and later a civilian president for eight years). He claimed that even the disastrous fall of the national currency, the cedi, in his last three years in office was manipulated by sinister forces.

From 1997, the cedi began an uncontrollable slide – from 05,000 to £1 in 1997, to ¢13,000 to £1 in 2000. Initially, Rawlings and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government struggled to understand what had hit them. But try as they did, they could not control the fall of the cedi, resulting in a sharp economic downturn and severe hardship for the people, which forced them to vote with their stomachs and put Rawlings’ NDC out of power in 2000. Now, from the sound of Craig Murray’s book, Rawlings has been vindicated! In an extraordinary expose, Britain’s ex-deputy high commissioner to Accra tells how he and his bosses in London conspired to put Rawlings out of power and how they implemented the plan. It was an extraordinary coup without guns! And Murray, as he says, was at the very heart of both the planning and the implementation!” An interesting aspect is: “When Murray woke up at 9:00 a.m., only two remote constituencies had not been declared and it was plain that John Kufuor had been elected even if the two constituencies went to Atta Mills. But, by law, Afari-Gyan could not formally declare Kufuor the winner until the two results had arrived.

Murray says: “This was now or never for the NDC; if they were to launch military action against the result, it had to be now. And my contacts were calling from all over Accra, giving me details of the movements and the sayings of key NDC figures and senior army personnel. There was undoubtedly a faction in the NDC that was looking to what could be done to cancel the result by military action. ‘At the same time Kufuor and his people had become highly nervous. Why was the result not being announced? Were fraudulent results being prepared? Was it going to be stolen again? Was there a delay to enable the military to prepare?

‘The NPP general secretary, Dan Botwe, was pressing hard for a declaration. Then, around 3:00 a.m., I received two pieces of news about the same time. Kufuor, on the advice of his key advisers, including Hackman Owusu Agyeman, was going to declare himself president.

“Almost simultaneously, the NDC had decided that, in the event that Kufuor declared himself the victory, they would denounce it as an unconstitutional coup and move in the military. Just at this time, I also received a firm order from Rod Pullen; he had heard that things may be going pear shaped, and ordered me to leave the Electoral Commission building.’ Murray said he phoned Hackman Owusu Agyeman and pleaded with him: ‘Hackman, I hear you are going to declare victory.’ Hackman replied: ‘Well, it looks like we’ve won, and…’ Murray cut him short: ‘Hackman, please, listen to me. Do not declare. Hackman replied: ‘But it’s been…’ Murray did not let him finish his sentence: ‘Please Hackman, I beg you,’ Murray pleaded. ‘Tell John (Kufuor). Tell him from me, personally, that Craig says he has to trust him. Do not declare. Then come to the Labadi Beach Hotel. I will see you there in half an hour.’

Murray then shook Afari-Gyan’s hand and made his way out of the EC headquarters at about 4:00 a.m. for the comforts of the bar of the Labadi Beach Hotel which became his HQ. ‘Hackman duly arrived,’ recalls Murray, ‘and I explained to him urgently that Kufuor had, undoubtedly won. I told him that I absolutely guaranteed that Afari-Gyan would announce the true result when all constituencies were in. but I also knew that forces in the NDC were poised for a military takeover if Kufuor made an ‘unconstitutional’ early declaration.’ Having succeeded in persuading Hackman and his colleagues to trust Afari-Gyan whom they did not trust on account of the 1992 and 1996 election results which the NPP insists to this day were stolen under his watch, Murray set about encouraging ‘a wide variety of respected and senior elderly Ghanaians to send messages to John Atta Mills to concede defeat.’

Murray says: ‘Atta Mills is an honourable man, and he did concede, to the absolute fury of Mrs. Rawlings. Mills thus killed off the chances of a coup. This all cleared the way for the formal declaration, made about 3:00 p.m., with Roger Gale and Nigel Jones supporting Afari-Gyan. I sat in the next room, enjoying beer. Then I went home and slept, completely exhausted.’

On the Sunday afternoon, with his work done, Murray drove to the home of the President-elect, John Kufuor. ‘We were both in shorts and T-shirts, and we sat in his garden with our sandaled feet up, drinking Chivas Regal and discussing plans for Ghana in the coming year. ‘After a whole generation of rule by Rawlings, Ghana had come through to genuine freedom and democracy. An African country had shown that real democracy was possible in Africa, with a change of power to the opposition after a good debate and a peaceful election. This was really the kind of progress I so desperately wanted for Africa. And I had helped to do it.’

Here, Murray could be permitted to blow a bit of his own horn, and why not – he had fought hard and dirty and had got the wishes of his bosses in London implemented in Accra! ‘My main task was accomplished in Ghana,’ he says, a bit smugly, ‘and I could spend my last year there undertaking important but not stressful tasks and basking in the friendship I had earned from Ghanaians.

‘It should be stressed that I still had many friends in the NDC, who acknowledged that Ghana had benefited from a genuine election, and were even prepared to say that a short period out of power would do them good, enabling them to become a real party and not just a Jerry Rawlings fan club’.”

Source: Daily Dispatch

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