Rawlings 'threw punches in cabinet'

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Accra (Reuter) - Ghana's vice-president said yesterday he was kicked in the groin and punched by President Jerry Rawlings in a fight at a cabinet meeting.

"He gave me a terrible blow on the shoulder which sent me falling to the floor," Nkensen Arkaah told a news conference, which was also attended by diplomats. "He 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." he said.

Vice-President Arkaah, co-leader of an opposition coalition, was recently quoted as saying that Cabinet meetings "had become the forum for corrupt and unscrupulous plans". At Thursday's Cabinet meeting Mr Rawlings confronted him.

Mr Arkaah, with his wife Mariam by his side at the news conference, insisted he had been "savaged" by Mr Rawlings and brought photographs as well as police and medical reports to prove it.

"In his frustration he kicked me a couple of times in the groin before members present were able to restrain him."

According to a government statement, the 68-year-old 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.