Accra, Ghana (PANA) – For the umpteenth time, rumours on the health of President John Evans Atta Mills captured the headlines in Ghana with the rumour mills churning out another death message.
President Mills has since 2008 been battling rumours of his poor healthy and death, with some newspapers claiming he has one cancer or the other. He went on to campaign and to win the 2008 election.
No press conference held by President Mills goes without a question on his health not being fired.
A few months ago, rumours of a serious illness of the President filled the air as his photographs showed his palms had turned dark. When the rumours reached him, he explained publicly that his doctors said he was reacting to a drug that was administered to him.
So it came to pass that last week, the social media were filled once more with the “death” of President Mills, forcing him to once again declare that he is healthy as he flew to the US on Saturday for a “routine medical checkup”.
“’I'm alive’ the president says as he goes for medical check-up,” was the headline of the state-owned Daily Graphic on Monday.
The story said President Mills left Accra on Saturday for a routine medical checkup in the US on the recommendations of his doctors.
The President told journalists: "Look at me as a person. Are you seeing a person who has died? Let me tell you, in six months we are going to work very, very hard (during the election campaign)."
The state-owned Ghanaian Times had the headline “President in US for medical checkup” with the story saying President Mills had expressed shock at rumours that he was dead.
"I am very, very strong and I don't know the basis of people saying I'm dead," he told journalists at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra.
The newspaper quoted President Mills as saying there was no cause for alarm, describing the medical checkup as "a routine one" to ensure that "everything is Okay."
The pro-opposition Daily Guide’s headline read “Mills flies out to see doctors.”
It said Ghana’s President John Evans Atta Mills personally announced on Saturday night that he was flying out of the country for a “medical check up” and to sit down with his doctors in the United States to “talk about things”.
It said the exact ailment for which the president was travelling to America remained unknown just as the unexplained “things” he would be talking about with his doctors.
The personal announcement by the president was made at a hurriedly organized press conference at the departure lounge of the Kotoka International Airport a few minutes before he left the country, as the rumour mill was awash with all manners of speculations, especially since the president had not been seen in public for a while.
The Daily Guide reported that President Mills, at the conference, “actually spread his arms open like a soaring eagle and asked journalists present to tell whether or not he was dead and whether a dead man could actually talk”.
“I heard about this (death) sometime ago and I said ‘what is happening?' Indeed, this is not the first time that I have heard people say this about me. Let me just say that I’m very, very strong and I don’t know the basis for saying that I am dead.”
President Mills’ ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) expressed surprise at reports of his “death” on some social networking sites.
Accra-based radio XYZ said the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the NDC, Ade Coker, who was at the Kotoka International Airport to see the President off was angry at the development.
“Some people in this country are wishing for the death of the President. This is not the first time and this is not proper for our democracy that people will wish somebody evil,” he said.
“Those who are wishing him to die; they will die first as the saying goes. When you are wishing a friend evil, it will come to you first.”
The Daily Guide also carried another story from an opposition member, Dr. Arthur Kennedy, under the headline “Mills must disclose his state of health - Arthur K.”
Dr. Kennedy said there “is too much secrecy around the President’s state of health” and asked the President to draw inspiration from the USA where issues about the health conditions of leaders are not classified.
“The health care of our leaders is always shrouded in secrecy,” he said. “This trend is not helpful and must change.”
The government’s White Paper on recommendations of a Constitution Review Commission (CRC) that collated views on the challenges facing the 20-year-old constitution was also given wide coverage.
“Government White paper on CRC - President to pay tax,” was one of the headlines of the Graphic on the subject.
It said the government had accepted the recommendation of the Commission that the tenure of the President should be maintained at four years.
It said the government White Paper on the CRC further endorsed the Commission’s recommendation that Presidents of the Republic should pay tax on their salaries and emoluments.
That, it said, would set an example for the rest of the citizenry and also reflect the principle of equality before the law and be in accordance with the rule of law.
The government also endorsed the recommendation that there should be a ceiling on the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.
It recommended that the time for conducting presidential and parliamentary elections should be coterminous and that the elections should not be held later than 60 days before the inauguration of the President and Parliament.
The Graphic said the Commission’s report addressed top 100 governance issues in Ghana after receiving 83,161 submissions.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 23June2012