“He [Rawlings, then 49-years-old] gave me a terrible blow on the shoulder, which sent me falling to the floor,” 68-year-old Arkaah (now late) told journalists at a news conference hours after the December 28, 1995, presidential fisticuff between him and the former military leader.
The self-styled “stubborn cat,” then leader of the National Convention Party (NCP), which went into an alliance with Mr Rawlings’ newly-found National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE) party, ahead of the country’s first democratic elections in 1992, to herald the fourth republic, recounted at his post-brawl press conference, which was also attended by diplomats that: “He [Rawlings] then attempted to pull me up by my shoulder in order to hit me further. He tore the shoulder of my jacket in the process.”
There had been no love lost between the two leaders after Mr Arkaah openly broke ranks with the alliance while still serving as Rawlings’ deputy.
He crossed divides to join forces with other opposition parties to fight the incumbent government in the next elections.
Prior to the brawl, the opposition coalition co-leader had been quoted in the press as saying Cabinet meetings “had become the forum for corrupt and unscrupulous plans.”
Flanked by his wife Miriam, Mr Arkaah, who insisted Mr Rawlings “savaged” him, said: “In his frustration, he kicked me a couple of times in the groin before members present were able to restrain him.” He adduced credence to his version of what happened with photos, as well as police and medical reports.
Reuters reported at the time that a government statement said: “Mr Arkaah, who chairs all cabinet meetings, was presiding over Thursday's session when Mr Rawlings, 49, demanded that he prove the allegations of corruption. The President also insisted that, in the meantime, Mr Arkaah not participate in Cabinet meetings. Mr Rawlings said he merely took his arm and insisted he leave.”
Supporting her husband’s version of the incident, Mrs Rawlings told Nhyira Addo on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, that: “…I believed him, and I asked others, who were in the meeting; and everybody said the same thing: That when Mr Arkaah (I think declared that he was now – was he a running mate to some party? I’ve forgotten the details, but he made an open statement that he was no more with the NCP to be in an alliance with NDC – he had moved to NPP.”
She continued: “And so frankly, I would have thought that the best thing would be to resign, but he didn’t, and I think when they had their cabinet meeting, they took a decision there that if Mr Arkaah comes in, they are going to ask him to leave…but vice-president Arkaah walked in, and nobody was able to tell him to leave.
“At that time my husband wasn’t in there, he walked in later. He said when he walked in (I think he asked his chief of staff: ‘Why is he here? Because you guys came to me and said you are going to ask him to leave, and I said: ‘Yes, it was ok.’ How come he’s still here?
“Of course you know the usual Ghanaian behaviour: Everybody starts looking down…so he went to him and then said: ‘I think you should leave the meeting.’ I believed my husband when he told me this because others have said the same thing. I’ve asked Valerie Sackey, who was at the meeting and she has also told me the same thing: That he [Rawlings] asked him to leave, but he put his hand on his [Arkaah’s] shoulder that: ‘I think you should leave the meeting,’ and then the guy kind of struggled like: ‘Take your hands off me business,’ and then he tumbled off his chair, and then the rest said: ‘No, he has to leave!’ And people went to my husband and said: ‘It’s OK! Leave him, but they all said: ‘No, he had to leave!’ And then he left, but when he left and he did his press conference, and then they saw that he had actually almost all the sleeve…removed that my husband tore the sleeve by beating him up. I don’t think he did. I’ve never seen him beat up anybody…I’m not saying it because he is my husband; if he’d done it and I’ve seen it, I’d say: ‘Oh! I’ve seen it, but I’ve never seen it,” Mrs Rawlings recounted.
Source: Class FM