Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has described his meeting with President John Evans Atta Mills as cordial and frank but refused to give details of discussions which lasted close to two hours.
When asked by Castle correspondents to comment on the controversial “all die be die” statement by the flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, he directed the media to ask the person who made the statement.
The former president would also not comment on whether President Mills was a “unifier”.
He said he was invited to the Castle to hold discussions with President Mills and that was all he did.
The former president was at the Castle at the instance of President Mills to discuss issues of mutual interest believed to centre on national and international concerns.
President Mills and his immediate predecessor exchanged pleasantries i= n an atmosphere of peace before discussions went behind closed doors. President Mills welcomed the former president with a warm handshake, saying “Mr President, welcome to your office” to which he replied, “Mr President, it is our office.”
The Director of State Protocol, Mr Ken Kanda, asked former President Kufuor, in keeping with Ghanaian tradition, to state his mission to the Castle.
President Mills said the invitation was for discussions on issues of national and international concern. He thanked the former president for his quick response to the invitation.
Former President Kufuor left office in 2009 after two terms, from January 2001 to January 2009.
The two main parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by President Mills and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have always exchanged harsh words and clashed, no matter which of them is in government or opposition.
The end of service benefits for the ex-president and his appointees also raised a huge public debate with the NPP saying the former president was not being treated fairly.
They are also likely to discuss the people’s revolutions sweeping across North Africa and the Arab world, and the volatile situation in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire, where a huge disagreement over who won the November 28, 2010 presidential run-off election, has led to the swearing-in of two presidents incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and opposition leader Alassane Ouattara – and is pushing the country deeper and deeper into crisis. The international community considers Ouattara as the winner of the vote and has asked Gbagbo to hand over power to Ouattara but the former has refused.
The meeting between President Mills and Former President Kufuor also comes less than one week after a furore over President Mills not acknowledging the former president and the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Wood, during the February 17 State of the Nation address to Parliament.
The President immediately apologised saying his failure to acknowledge the dignitaries was not intentional and said he would follow protocol during his next state of the nation’s address to Parliament next year.
The minority leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, in retaliation, snubbed the President by refusing to escort him out of the Chamber, as is required by Parliamentary convention.
President Mills has also been concerned about the language of politicians and the general population on public platforms or in the media, and made a veiled response to the controversial 93All die be die” statement of Nana Akufo-Addo, the current flag bearer of former President Kufuor’s NPP.
He stated in his State of the Nation address that political stability was the gift of political discipline by all actors.
“Those of us in leadership positions bear the heaviest burden in ensuring that our actions and utterances do not incite lawlessness and damage our sense of community.”
The address stated that the media had a huge responsibility in the effort we must all make to encourage rational exchanges among reasonable people with different views.
“Let us all keep one thing in mind; Just because you have the right to say something does not mean you should. Exercising good judgment is important”, President Mills told the nation.
“Madam Speaker, we have no other place called home; that is why we must allow the things that unite us to override the things that divide us. “Whether from the East, West, North, or South, we are all Ghanaians.
“No one group is superior to the others; we are one people with a common destiny so we must forge ahead with a united sense of purpose of building a nation that this generation and future generations will be proud of.
“And let no one think that inciting or priming others for violence is the way to determine the outcome of elections. “Madam Speaker, Ghana will not die; Ghana will live to proclaim the glory of God“, President Mills said.