Accra, Ghana (PANA) - The continuing debate on President John Evans Atta Mills’ health and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) party's decision against his appearance in presidential debates for December’s election were some of the stories reported in Ghana this week.
President Mills returned from the US on Monday after a “routine medical checkup”, giving the media a lot to chew on as they reported the subject in different ways, especially from their political lenses.
Prior to his departure for the US, the social media had been replete with questions and rumours that President Mills was dead.
“I'm fit as a fiddle - President Mills,” was the headline of the state-owned Graphic on Tuesday. The paper reported that President Mills on Monday returned from the US after undergoing a routine medical check-up and declared that he was very fit to carry out his official duties.
It said the President told a crowd that thronged the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra that “my doctors tell me that my energy level is stronger now more than before.”
The enthusiastic crowd, including supporters and sympathisers of the NDC, responded to the comments by the President with thunderous cheers.
As early as 8 am, thousands of party supporters, government officials, clad in white attires, symbolising victory, had besieged the VIP wing of the airport amid drumming, singing and dancing in readiness to receive the President.
The Graphic said President Mills, who went straight to the Castle, Osu, to commence business, said it had been his tradition to have his medical check-up in Ghana.
However, this time round, he said, his doctors advised that “we should go out for a medical check-up.”
The state-owned Ghanaian Times carried the story under the headline “President: I'm back with a lot of energy.”
It said the President announced that he was fitter than ever, adding that he was back with a lot of energy to work.
"The report of the (medical) review tells me one thing, that the energy that I have is enough for the present and future," he told the ecstatic crowd.
The Times said President Mills said he was happy to be back home, as he jogged briefly on the red carpet on the tarmac when he was ushered from the aircraft by Vice President John Dramani Mahama, a number of ministers of state and the presidential candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC) Hassan Ayariga.
He described the medical checkup as very successful and thanked all Ghanaians who supported him with prayers, declaring that "God is in control."
The pro-opposition Daily Guide had the headline “Mills jogs at Airport”, with the story saying President Mills on Monday afternoon proved that he still remained a healthy sportsman when he temporarily turned the Kotoka International Airport into a jogging ground, showcasing his “physical fitness” ahead of the December elections.
The paper said the President, in an apparent attempt to prove that he was fit and healthy, started trotting in his suit and flying tie with executive black shoes right under the scorching sun at the airport.
"However, the President was betrayed by his shaky voice, indicating that all was not well with him. He had a nasal tone as he spoke to the crowd of well wishers," the newspaper said.
“NDC stays out of IEA debate” was the headline of the Graphic on President Mills and Vice President Mahama staying out of the presidential debates being organised by the think-tank Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).
The story said the NDC had reaffirmed its decision not to participate in this year's Presidential and Vice Presidential debates.
The NDC National Propaganda Secretary, Mr Richard Quarshigah, said the decision not to participate in the debates was “to uphold the existing convention that no sitting president or vice president had participated in these debates in the Fourth Republic”.
The website of an Accra-based radio station, Joy FM, under the headline “Mills' absence will not affect presidential debates”, said the IEA was convinced the boycott of President Mills of the upcoming Presidential debates would not affect the credibility of the debates.
Administrator of the Institute Jeane Mensah said the rest of the candidates were eager to sell their vision to the electorates.
She described as unfortunate the practice in which opposition candidates always found the IEA credible and took part in their activities, but sang a different song when they got into power.
The Daily Guide’s headline read: “Mills runs from Nana”, referring to Nana Akufo-Addo, presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
President Mills also disregarded an invitation to the “Evening Encounter with a Presidential candidate”, also organised by the IEA to provide an individual platform and a unique opportunity for each of the presidential candidates to present to the electorate their vision and strategies on governing the country.
The website had another story on the subject under the headline “Kpessah Whyte faults IEA over presidential debate boycotts.”
It said a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana had blamed the IEA for the habitual boycotts of incumbent parties in the presidential debates.
Dr Michael Kpessah Whyte said the IEA had over the years failed to thoroughly engage the political parties before rolling out their activities.
The first edition of the presidential debate in 2000 was boycotted by sitting Vice President John Mills, who was seeking to be retained in government as president.
In 2004, President John Kufuor of the NPP, who was also seeking re-election, also boycotted the presidential debate.
Even though all the political parties took part in the 2008 edition, the ruling NDC announced Tuesday it is boycotting the 2012 edition.
-0- PANA MA/SEG 30June2012