Former President John Dramani Mahama has debunked assertions that a statement from his former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah on recent pronouncements by Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was to undermine the authority of the Ashanti King.
According to Mahama, the statement was to clarify issues and not to “disparage Otumfuo’s efforts at promoting national peace and unity.”
“Clearly, Mr. Julius Debrah’s statement was intended to simply clarify that I never had the slightest intention of seeking to hang on to power unconstitutionally, as some media houses sought to infer from Otumfuo’s speech at the UN,” the former President said in a statement posted on his Facebook wall on Saturday.
He condemned the seeming wrong impression being created by a section of the public following Mr. Debrah’s statement.
“I therefore find the language and commentary in the ensuing public discourse very disturbing.”
Mahama said he holds Otumfuo in high esteem and will not allow this issue to mar their long-standing cordial relationship.
“On Otumfuo’s return home, we will take the necessary steps to bring closure to this matter. In the meantime, I urge the general public and party members not to be baited into non-constructive flogging of this issue,” he advised.
While addressing a United Nations (UN) General Assembly meeting on the Culture of Peace in the US last weekend, Otumfuo claimed that he had to intervene to convince a losing candidate [ostensibly ex-President Mahama] to concede defeat in the 2016 Presidential election.
“I’m proud that in a quiet and informal way we in Ghana are showing the benefits of the traditional and contemporary cohesion in governance. Apart from the constitutional arrangement for a National House of Chiefs, the respect for traditional authority has created a layer of moral authority that can be mobilized in times of crisis. On occasions where the political temperature has been on the verge of boiling over it has been possible to bring the combatants into a quiet conclave to cool down passions and restore calm,” he said.
“At the conclusion of the last Presidential and Parliamentary elections the country stood on the edge of disaster. The UN Representatives and the Diplomatic community were aghast alarmed that Ghana was about to slip down the slope of electoral violence. Fortunately, the moral authority of the Palace was at hand. We were able to intervene to persuade the losing candidate to accept his fate and fly both candidates for a quiet encounter to pave way for a smooth handover,” he added.
But the NDC was unhappy with Otumfuo’s remarks.
Julius Debrah in responding to the statement said John Mahama was not persuaded to concede defeat in the last election as claimed.
“It is public knowledge that President Mahama willingly announced his decision to accept the outcome of the 2016 elections and congratulate Nana Akufo-Addo even before the official results were formally declared by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission,” Mr. Debrah said in a statement.
Mr. Debrah and the opposition National Democratic Congress incurred the wrath of the Asante Youth Association over the statement claiming it was aimed at destroying the Asante Kingdom.
The Director of Operations for the Association, Nana Oppong Boadu called on former President John Mahama to dissociate himself from the press statement released by Mr. Debarah or face the consequence.
“We are giving John Mahama 48 hours to come and retract that he didn’t instruct Julius Debrah to issue that statement. Other than that we are going to make the Ashanti Kingdom a hostile place for himself and his party,” Nana Oppong Boadu stated.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings also waded into the controversy by calling for calm.
“The Asantehene has made us proud with a highly educative address to the UN on the subject of peace. Comments by former President Mahama on an aspect of the address shouldn’t elicit or provoke edict sounding threats. It is unwarranted and unnecessary,” Rawlings said in a statement.
Below is Mahama’s full statement:
The recent statement from my office was meant to shed more light on the events surrounding the 2016 poll and not to disparage Otumfuo’s efforts at promoting national peace and unity. I therefore find the language and commentary in the ensuing public discourse very disturbing.
Clearly Mr. Julius Debrah’s statement was intended to simply clarify that I never had the slightest intention of seeking to hang on to power unconstitutionally, as some media houses sought to infer from Otumfuo’s speech at the UN.
I have profound respect for Otumfuo and Asanteman and will not allow this issue to mar our long standing cordial relationship. On Otumfuo’s return home, we will take the necessary steps to bring closure to this matter. In the meantime, I urge the general public and party members not to be baited into non-constructive flogging of this issue.