Friday, June 27, 2008

DPP To Launch Its Manifesto In July

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday, 26 June 2008
The Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) is to launch its manifesto for the December general election in mid July.

Mohammed Salisu Sulaimana, the DPP general secretary who disclosed this in an interview with the Times yesterday said "we have almost completed putting our manifesto in shape and it has very positive programmes for the people of Ghana."

He said the manifesto which has the theme: "Progressive and truthful change", will focus on security, education, health, agriculture and energy.

He said when the DPP gets the nod to govern the country, they will review the structures within the police service to position the personnel to be more responsive to modern methods in policing

"The DPP will bring policing to the doorsteps of the people by introducing community policing where police officers will always live side by side with the people."

Mr Sulaimana said the move will boost the effort by the police to bring the upsurge in crime under total control.

He also said a DPP government will remove all bottlenecks in accessing students loan to pursue higher education saying "the current government has attempted some kind of a review but a DPP administration will make it more flexible for every student to enjoy".

The DPP general secretary further said the manifesto will also place emphasis on the need to motivate teachers by providing them with the necessary incentives in order for them to give of their best and help raise the standard of education in the country.

He also said the DPP will train more health professionals and provide them with the needed incentives to retain them in the country.

He said the DPP will encourage private participation in agriculture and also invest in nuclear energy to augment the current energy initiatives of the country.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Prof. Mills at the 'Encounter'

Prof Atta Mills at the IEA 'Encounter'

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday June 20,2008
The sentencing of Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation almost diverted the focus when NDC flagbearer Prof. John Evans Atta Mills took his turn at the ‘Encounter’, a programme designed to offer platform for presidential aspirants to share their vision with the public.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Tsikata had been jailed five years by an Accra Fast Track High Court for willfully causing financial loss to the state and when the NDC flagbearer started his address to the nation he said “I dedicate the presentation to my good friend Tsatsu.”

“If anyone though that his sentence will dampen my spirit, they will be disappointed,” he continued.

The organisers had to insist during question time that the ‘Encounter’ was meant for explaining manifestoes of political parties the the issue of Mr Tsikata could be suspended.

The ‘Encounter’ is organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) under the auspices of the Ghana Political Parties Programme and broadcast live on Ghana Television and Joy FM.

Prof. Mills said “there are people who argue that campaigning for this election should be based on comparison of records but if this is fairly done the NDC will come on top.”

He said “the election is about leadership qualities and Atta Mills comes on board with truth, honesty and humility”, adding “I will lead a government that is honest, truthful and caring.”

Prof. Mills said “once the election is over we should be able to unite to move the country forward. I will be the president for all and not only for the NDC.”

He said currently, Ghana did not have problems with good laws and policies but rather “the country’s problem is with implementation which is traceable to leadership.”

On the economy, the NDC flagbearer said “people are worried about harsh economic conditions and it will need a caring government to take pragmatic steps to help the people out of the harsh conditions.”

He said the NDC will implement policies to ensure economic growth, increase domestic savings and infrastructure.

Admitting that there is a soaring crude oil price on the world market, Prof. Mills accused the government of excessive spending and extravagance saying “I would not rid the economy to benefit my relatives, associates and members of my party.”

“There are some who argue that Ghana’s political landscape must be shared by all but those on the other think it should be the survival of the fittest. They see it as each one for himself God for the selected few.”

“There is too much discrimination. Government should be a tool in the service of the people and not an avenue to create wealth.”

“I will crack the whip if any of my appointees are found to be corrupt.”

On crime, Prof. Mills said “Ghana is fast losing her hard earned regulation because of the activities of drug barons who have flooded our country with narcotics.”

“There are perceptions that the NPP has created an atmosphere which allows barons to go scot free or welcomed but an NDC administration will collaborate with all stakeholders to tackle the drug menace head on.”

He said the NDC will revive the regional partnership in intelligence gathering to combat high rate of crime especially robbery.”

Turning to agriculture, Prof. Mills said “the NDC will begin a renaissance of agriculture by doubling the production of cereals, fruits and vegetables.”

He said the NDC will renovate all the irrigation projects, construct additional ones, ensure the canalization of the Accra plains as well as establish a fertilizer factory in the Western Region and encourage bamboo cultivation.”

Prof. Mills said “there is too much unbridled importation of poultry products and we will use WTO rules in the imposition of tariff to sustain the local industry.”

On fishing he said the NDC will create a 200 mile exclusive economic zone for conservation purposes and protect local fishermen from foreign vessels and trawlers.

Touching on education, the NDC flagbearer said “we will extend the school feeding programme to cover all primary schools and we will not reverse the name of senior High School.”

He said the NDC will focus on quality education by making teaching attractive and also emphasise on creative arts and languages as well as Religious and Moral Education at the basic level.

He said the NDC will focus on full lost recovery at the tertiary level and brilliant but needy students will be given scholarships.

He also promised to complete the Ghana Institute of Journalism campus.

The NDC flagbearer said the NDC will review the National Health Insurance Scheme to suit all people and build modern hospitals in Koforidua and Bolgatanga.

On energy he said the NDC will increase Ghana’s energy potential from 1600 megawatts to 5000 and account strictly the revenue of oil reserves saying “we will make the oil become a blessing and not a curse.”

On the question of his health which he insisted to answer, Prof. Mills said “I am not a super human being. At the moment I am fit and during my work. I may live to be 80 or 90 or even next week before I die and it is only God who knows.”

He also promised that when elected President his cabinet will have a place for about 40 per cent of women saying “I am not doing them a favour. I am acknowledging the realities on the ground.”

He also said the police administration need ‘revival’ and ‘restoration’ and the NDC will work to enhance the security of the people.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

DFP Flag-Bearer Calls On Ga Mantse

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday, 18 June 2008
The flag-bearer of Democratic Freedom Party Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi on Monday called on the Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Tawiah III at his palace in Accra.

The DFP delegation was led by Nii Okaija Adamafio, a former Interior Minister and a vice chairman of the DFP and also included Dr Obed Yao Asamoah, the patron of the party.

They were at the palace to introduce Mr Ansah-Antwi, 43, a Marketing and Communication Consultant as the flag-bearer for the December election.

Addressing the Ga Mantse and his elders, Mr Ansah-Antwi said as custodians of the capital city, it will be improper for anyone seeking political office not to pay his or her respect for the chiefs.

"I know chiefs do not do politics but they exercise their franchise during election. I have come here to seek your "blessing and to entrust our party to you".

He accused both the NPP and the NDC of mismanaging the country’s economy when they were given the chance to govern saying "the DFP has come for total change".

He also said the acrimony between the NDC and the NPP threatens the peace of the country adding that "recent development in Tamale is an indication that these parties must be shown the exist in the December election".

He said the DFP will revolutionalise the agriculture industry by introducing what he called the ‘green revolution’.

The DFP flag-bearer said "we can reduce poverty if more people are introduced into agriculture. The rural areas are still poor but through agriculture, we will open those places".

He also said the DFP when elected into office will involve the chiefs in the process of decentralisation to ensure accelerated development.

On sanitation, Mr Ansah-Antwi said the DFP will introduce what he called "from trash to cash" method where waste generated will be recycled as part of the effort to fight poor sanitation.

Nii Adamafio who was the spokesperson for the DFP delegation, said "the DFP is for politics devoid of insults and acrimony and will work effectively with traditional authorities to bring development".

Nii Tackie Tawiah III urged the DFP to help consolidate the country’s growing democracy.

He recognised Dr Asamoah as a veteran politician who has helped to enhance the country’s political landscape.


Mr Tsikata (rigt) on his way to the prisons after the judgement

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday, 19 June 2008
THE trial of Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, which dragged for five years and eight months, ended yesterday with the Accra Fast Track High Court sentencing him to five years in prison.

He was charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the state and misapplying public funds.

The court found him guilty of all four counts of causing financial loss of about ¢2.3 billion to the state through a loan he, acting on behalf of the GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms Limited, a private cocoa producing company in 1991, and misapplying public property.

The court, presided over by Justice Henrietta Abban, sentenced him to five years imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.

Before his sentence, Mr. Tsikata was seeking an order at the Supreme Court to bring the International Finance Corporation to testify in the case in which both the Court of Appeal and the Fast Track High Court had ruled that the IFC has immunity from the processes of the courts.

But Mr.Tsikata insisted that failure to get the corporation to testify "will occasion a miscarriage of justice".

The Supreme Court had fixed June 25, to deliberate on Mr.Tsikata’s application, but when Justice Abban sat yesterday, she made it clear that she was proceeding to read her judgement because the court had not received any order from the Supreme Court to stay proceedings.

After the prosecution, led by Attorney-General Joe Ghartey announced themselves to the court yesterday, Mr Tsikata, who had gone to seek an adjournment to enable him to move a motion for an acquittal, told the court that his counsel, Prof. Emmanuel Victor Oware Dankwa,was out of the court’s jurisdiction.

He argued that he needed the services of his counsel before the case could proceed, but the judge asked him to represent himself since he is a lawyer, so that she could go on with the case.

Delivering the judgement, which took about two hours, Justice Abban said the prosecution was able to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, a case against Mr Tsikata.

On the charge of wilfully causing financial loss, the court said the prosecution was able to lead evidence to prove that Mr Tsikata authorised the guarantee of the loan without the GNPC board’s approval, which Valley Farms defaulted in repayment.

The court held that the venture embarked upon by Mr Tsikata caused financial loss to the GNPC, which is a state institution, and the loss was occasioned by acts wilfully done by Mr Tsikata, then Chief Executive of the corporation.

On misappropriation of public property, the court further held that the prosecution was able to prove that Mr Tsikata intentionally misapplied public property when he authorised the guarantee.

When the judge completed reading her judgement, she asked Mr Tsikata who stood throughout the proceedings taking notes, whether he had any comments before the sentence was passed.

Mr Tsikata replied: "I have already indicated to the court that my counsel has travelled abroad. This court had previously adjourned proceedings to await an aspect of the Supreme Court ruling which can have significance for my defence".

He added, "This judgement is against the weight of evidence," but the judge cut in, saying "you are not in control of this court. You are not going to tell me what to do."

This resulted in a heated exchange between the judge and Mr Tsikata, but Justice Abban proceeded in passing the sentence.

She said: "I sentence you to five years in jail",

Mr Tsikata responded: " I hope the albatross hanging around your neck has been removed" Justice Abban: "Did I say I have any albatross hanging around my neck?"

Mr Tsikata: "You did say so some time ago."

Justice Abban stated: "I do not remember. All I said was that there should be an end to litigation."

Mr Tsikata then told the court of his intention to appeal against the judgement, and said, "before that I am applying for bail pending the appeal."

The judge then asked the prosecution to respond to the request by Mr Tsikata, and Mr Ghartey designated Mrs Yvonne Obuobisah, a Principal State Attorney, to do so.

Mrs. Obuobisah opposed the application when she took the floor. "This application is strange in the law. He must follow due process. There is no notice of appeal pending and he cannot put something on nothing," she said.

Further, she said, "the application has to rely on something but he did not state any exceptional grounds on which a bail should be granted".

But Mr Tsikata reacted: "There is no indication that judgement will be given today. I have been summoned to court but without my counsel who notified the court of his absence, and these are clearly unusual circumstances."

He said once the court rescinded its decision to await the Supreme Court’s verdict, it put him in a disadvantage, "I am taking steps to have the appeal filed but I have to be free to be able to do so."

The judge then replied: "I do not even know the grounds on which you are appealing. I therefore uphold the prosecution’s argument that there is no pending application based on which I can make my decision."

By the time proceedings ended, people had began to fill the court room. Notable among them was Mr John Mahama, the National Democratic Congress presidential running mate in the December poll.

After the court had ended proceedings, former President Jerry John Rawlings came there briefly and left.

Not long afterwards, the flag-bearer of the National Democratic Congress , Prof John Atta Mills and the party’s General Secretary Asiedu Nketsia also came around.

Mr Tsikata was later taken to the court’s registry by police escorts to process and sign the necessary documents before being taken to prison.

The Times later learnt that Mr Tsikata filed a notice of appeal and stay of execution pending appeal and was due to move his application later yesterday.

The prosecution’s case was that Mr Tsikata, then Chief Executive of the GNPC, guaranteed a loan contracted by Valley Farms from Caisse Centrale, now Agence Francaise De Development (AFD) in 1991, but the company defaulted, thus compelling GNPC to pay the loan in 1996.

Mr Tsikata is said to have guaranteed the loan without the GNPC board’s approval.

The case started in October 2002 with the late Mr. Osafo Sampong, the then Director of Public Prosecutions leading the prosecuteion.

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fast Track Court trying Mr Tsikata was unconstitutional, following a challenge by Mr Tsikata of its status, a decision which was overturned later in a judicial review.

Mr. Joe Ghartey is the third Attorney-General after Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Mr. J. Ayikoi Otoo, to prosecute the case.

In all, seven witnesses were called by the prosecution, while the defence called one. There were also two court witnesses from the Merchant Bank.


Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom is the flag-bearer of the Convention Peoples Party formed by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's First President

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday, 18 June 2008
THE Nduom for President Campaign Team, has accused some of the contenders who lost the CPP flag-bearership contest to Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, of undermining his efforts as leader of the Convention Peoples’ Party to win the December poll.

"In recent times, members such as Lucy Ennin and F.A. Jantuah have publicly asked Dr Nduom to clear his name on the Serious Fraud Office report, but I can tell you that it is a case of selfish politicians who failed to win important positions in the party that are behind them," David Ampofo, spokesman for the campaign team, said in answer to questions raised at a news conference in Accra yesterday.

The campaign team was reacting to growing calls for Dr Nduom to go to court and purge himself of allegations levelled against him in the SFO report.

Mr Ampofo said he has information that, leading members such as Professor Agyeman Badu Akosah, Mr Bright Akwetey, both presidential aspirants, who lost, and other former executives of the party, are behind the "shameless and dangerous game of dragging the name of Dr Nduom in the mud".

For instance, he said, when Ms Ennin held her news conference to call on the party to take up the matter, certain leading members were present, adding, "We call on the chairman of the party to enforce discipline within our organisation".

He said: "Dr Nduom does not owe anyone a duty to go to court for any reason. He has not committed any crime against the state. He who alleges must prove the allegation."

Mr Ampofo said "for whatever reason, a review of the State Enterprises Commission unfortunately turned into a review of Dr Nduom’s activities and financial and investment interests in Ghana".

He said Parliament which has the powers of a High Court when presented with the report, felt satisfied with the evidence provided by Dr Nduom and subsequently cleared him to become a Minister of State.

"Dr Nduom has ample evidence of taxes paid on income earned by him over the years. We are satisfied that Dr Nduom has done what is humanely possible to take care of his obligations to the state."

A statement read earlier by Mr Felix Amoah, chairman of the ‘Dr Nduom for President Campaign Team said: "We must make it clear that in this matter, our quarrel is not with the NDC, the NPP or the SFO. It is rather with the small number of people who are bent on destroying what many have worked hard to build – a new vibrant and credible CPP that is independent of the other political parties."

"This is not a case of seeking the truth, wanting Dr Nduom to clear his name, or protecting the great CPP. This is a case of selfish politicians who failed at congress to win important positions in the party."

The statement said Dr Nduom’s detractors presented the same report to the National Executive Council at the congress and were told that they had no case, and congress went ahead to overwhelmingly endorse him as the flag-bearer.

Mr Amoah said the credible message of "change you can feel in your pocket", being embarked upon by Dr Nduom is going down well with the electorate, adding that "we will not be distracted by the important task on hand".

Attempts to reach Prof. Akosa on phone proved futile, but when the Times got in touch with Mr Akwetey, he said: "I would like to read the statement in the media before I can react to it appropriately".

Sunday, June 15, 2008

DFP: We Have Confidence In The EC

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday, 14 June 2008
The Democratic Freedom Party says it has full confidence in the Electoral Commission.

"The Electoral Commission is capable of organising a credible election. It is one of the best in Africa," Bede Ziedeng, general secretary of the DFP, said this in an interview in Accra yesterday.

"It is certainly not a perfect human institution, but if we are to throw away our EC I do not know what else we can hope for. We should all urged them to improve upon their performance."

On the alleged bloated voters’ register, Mr Ziedeng said "there is no bloated register. There are discrepancies but it has not affected the database as the EC rightly assured."

"The database is intact. We were all assured by the EC that the error is capable of being cured as it is a human one."

On the party’s preparations for the December poll, the DFP general secretary said "we are busily interacting with our constituency and regional executives and to equip them with the tools of political organisation and campaigning".

He said the party has already covered all the three northern regions and the Brong Ahafo Region and was expected to complete the whole country by July.

Mr Ziedeng said the DFP will embark on vigorous campaign to properly market its flag-bearer, Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi from August, saying, "We have made the necessary preparations to ensure a successful campaign".

He said "the DFP has targeted five parliamentary seats in the Upper West, six in the Upper East and 15 each in the Northern and Brong-Ahafo regions respectively," adding "we are still making assessments for the rest of the regions".

He said the party’s campaign message of "women and youth empowerment, ensuring active participation in the process of governance and the revolution of the agric sector with emphasis on subsidies have gone down well with the electorate."

"Our flag-bearer has received warm receptions from the public on his campaign trips. The DFP is carrying a unique message and we will spring a big surprise in December."

Friday, June 13, 2008

GNP To Field Candidates In All Constituencies

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 13 June 2008
The Ghana National Party says it will field parliamentary candidates in all the constituencies to contest the December general election.

"The GNP is here to stay and we will work hard to make an impressive showing at this year’s general election," Eric Mesah Sarpong, Deputy General Secretary told the Times in an interview yesterday.

He said the party has already opened nominations for interested parliamentary aspirants to file to contest the December election on its ticket, adding "a lot of people are expressing their interest in contesting for us".

He said "although some parties are claiming to have strong holds we will ensure that we capture as many seats as we can".

Mr Sarpong said "we believe the conditions under which the people of Ghana find themselves is not the best but the GNP is here to correct the defects".

He said the party if voted into power will wage economic war to transform the economy of Ghana adding "we always have to seek first the economic freedom and all other developments will be created".

He said a GNP administration will transform the informal sector to boost economic growth and added that the GNP will not depend on foreign donors for the development of Ghana.

NDC Demands Action Against 2 E.C. Officials

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 13 June 2008
THE National Democratic Congress (NDC) is demanding the re-assignment of Albert Kofi Arhin, Director of Elections at the Electoral Commission, in the supreme interest and security of the nation.

The party is also calling for the removal of the Head of Information Technology (IT) Department of the Commission whose name was given as Mr Akomea for alleged incompetence.

Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, General Secretary of the NDC, made the call at a news conference in Accra yesterday, in reaction to an earlier one organised by the EC on Tuesday on the alleged bloated voters register in 13 constituencies in the Ashanti Region.

He said when the NDC first raised the issue of the bloated register, "Mr Arhin swiftly reacted through various media with claims that what the party complained about did not exist in any official documents of the commission but the commission itself has come out to admit that there were discrepancies as a result of errors which occurred in programmes used to generate the voter’s statistics."

He also said Mr Akomea should be held responsible for not ensuring that the programmes used to store the statistics were in order, adding "anytime the NDC will raise the issue that the EC is not resourced enough, the commission itself will claim they have enough resources to organise elections."

Following the public pronouncements by the NDC over the bloated register, the EC set up a seven-member committee to investigate the matter and the committee’s report was made public by the EC on Tuesday.

At that news conference, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the EC, had said among other things that "the voters registration database from which it produces the register for elections is intact and does not contain the strange figures that formed the basis of the NDC’s allegation of a bloated register."

He further said that rather, they exist on the hard copies of the voter statistics that the NDC received, and are traceable to an operational error in the generation of the statistics.

Mr Asiedu-Nketia said when the EC was compelled to investigate the matter, the committee that it set up, came up with "key recommendations which were in line with the suggestions made by the NDC over the years but which have persistently been ignored by the Commission."

Mr Asiedu-Nketia said the use of conflict prevention mechanisms like the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and stakeholders suggested by the NDC had been thwarted by the EC.

"I can recount numerous occasions when attempts by the NDC to use other means to seek solutions with the EC have been ignored. This left us with the option of public statements such as this.

"We wish to state that the NDC is a party committed to dialogue and consensus building among stakeholders in the establishment of electoral rules and processes. It must however be emphasised that consultation and consensus building among stakeholders thrive best in an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust and confidence which the committee rightly finds lacking between the EC and some of its stakeholders including the NDC."

Dr Kwabena Adjei, National Chairman of the NDC, said: "we want to enlist the support of the public in looking at the situation. We do not need to politicise this matter."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

EC Explains Delay In Re-opening Voters Registration Exercise

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday, 12 June 2008
THE Electoral Commission has attributed the delay in re-opening the voters register to the introduction of "new technology" being adopted to ensure a credible register.

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the EC said at a news conference in Accra on Tuesday that "we are getting new equipment for the exercise but the materials have not yet arrived".

He said, "I cannot be specific on the date for the re-opening of the exercise but I can assure you that our next major activity will definitely be the re-opening of the voters registration".

He said the registration exercise will focus on people who have just turned 18 years and have the right to vote.

Dr Afari-Gyan said "we wish to assure other public that as a commission, we will do our work in a transparent and fair manner, without favour to any party or candidate".

"In return, we hope that all political parties and candidates, their activists and supporters, the media, commentators, and the people at large will behave responsibly so that we have a credible general election on December 7."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Voters Register Is Intact - EC

Dr. Kwadwo Afaari-Gyan, Head of Ghana's Electoral Commission at a news conference in Accra

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday, 11 June 2008
THE Electoral Commission (EC) says the voters registration database from which it produces the register for elections is intact and does not contain the strange figures that formed the basis of the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) allegation of a bloated register.

The NDC recently alleged that the voters register was bloated by 100 per cent in 13 constituencies in the Ashanti Region, and this compelled the EC to set up a seven-member committee to investigate the matter.

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the EC, at a news conference in Accra yesterday said, "The committee’s finding is that the figures, which formed the basis of the allegation of a bloated register, do not exist either on the commission’s own compact version of the voters register or on the CD-ROMs given to the NDC.

"Rather, they exist on the hard copies of the voter statistics that the NDC received, and are traceable to an operational error in the generation of the statistics."

However, the seven-member committee in concluding its report said "there were discrepancies in the voters’ registration figures given out by the commission to the NDC and the GCPP on hard copies.

The discrepancies were as a result of errors which occurred in programmes used to generate the voters’ statistics".

Recounting what brought about the allegation, Dr Afari-Gyan said "more than a year back, the NDC applied to the EC, on different occasions for a copy of the voters register".

"At one time, he said, the register was supplied to the NDC in the form of hard copies (printed) of the voter statistics, and not the voter register as such. On another occasion, the comversion of the voters’ register without pictures was supplied them on CD-ROMs."

version of the voters’ register without pictures was supplied them on CD-ROMs."
He said "if you use the CD-ROM to get to the database, the error that the NDC is complaining about does not exist. However, you will find the discrepancies in the figures on the hard copy of the voter statistics".

Asked whether discrepancies in the voters’ register did not create credibility problems for the EC, Dr Afari-Gyan, flanked by all his deputies and other top officials, said; "Anything that occasions an error on the register is a serious matter, but what is important is that the error complained of is not on the database of the EC".

As to whether or not the EC should apologise to the NDC or commend them for raising the issue, he said, "we welcome people who draw our attention to possible deficiencies but as to whether we owe the NDC an apology, I will leave it to the public to decide".

He said: "what we found to be most regrettable about some of the political statements and media discussions and commentaries relating to the allegation of a bloated register, were that on one hand they were hurried, uninformed and premature statements and judgements and, on the other, blatant, accusations of deliberate wrongdoing made against the commission collectively and against some of its individual members.

All the EC asks for, he said, is that such matters be brought to its attention in good faith, with a view to preserving the integrity of the register.

Asked whether the EC will initiate action against its staff responsible for the error, Dr Afari-Gyan replied rhetorically "if somebody makes a genuine mistake, do you put that person in prison or fine him?"

He added, "With this finding, the issue of a bloated register should be laid to rest; and we hope that people will henceforth desist from playing politics with it".

Friday, June 06, 2008

NPP to ammend its constitution

This is the logoof the ruling New Patriotic Party NPP in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday June 2, 2008
THE New Patriotic Party is considering the amendment of the clause in the party’s constitution that allows a limited number of delegates to vote for a candidate to contest parliamentary elections on its ticket.

This is as a result of the controversies that have surrounded a number of the party’s primaries where candidates are elected for the December General Election.

Currently the NPP constitution allows all polling station chairpersons within a constituency plus all the constituency executives to form an electoral college before a Parliamentary candidate can be selected.

Peter Mac Manu, National Chairman of the NPP who dropped the hint in an interview with the Times in Accra on Wednesday said “we want to expand the base of the delegates so that as many as possible will get the opportunity to participate in this important process.”

He said, “It is a constitutional matter and we cannot do anything about it for now but we will take bold steps towards the amendment after the December election”.

The Chairman said currently the party leadership has set up a dispute resolution committee to handle all grievances arising out of the various primaries adding “the committee has received petitions and is actively considering it.”

He said the NPP is making headlines because people now put high premium on contesting for a seat in Parliament on its ticket.

Mac-Manu said NPP activities have so competitive that in the areas where it was dangerous for people to be associated with the NPP, “People are now clamoring to contest seats there on our ticket.”

“I challenge any party that claims to have successfully elected it Parliamentary Candidates without any hitch”, adding “the NPP is experiencing pockets of problems because we make sure that everybody gets the opportunity to speak out”.

He said we are well organised and are among the best in Africa. We have toiled to build this party and we will continue to protect it.”

He urged party supporters to help promote and protect the good name and unity of the NPP.

On the outdooring of the party’s manifesto, Mr Mac Manu said the party leadership selected August because “it will coincide with our annual national meeting”, adding “it is important that that congress which is the highest decision making body takes possession before it gets to the public.”

On the intended award to be bestowed on Prof. J.E.A. Mills flag-bearer of the NDC, Mr Mac Manu said “I cannot make any comment until the President comes back from his trip for us to know the way forward.”

Electoral Commission: We are in control

Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan is the Electoral Commissioner of Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday June 6, 2008
THE Electoral Commission says it has not shirked its responsibility as far as the registration of political parties is concerned.

In recent times there has been concerns raised by the public especially some political analysts about the formation of more political parties to add up to the already chocked system and have questioned the criteria used by the EC to register such parties.

Christina Owusu-Parry, Acting Public Affairs Director of the Electoral Commission, reacting to public concerns to the Times in Accra on Wednesday “We conduct thorough investigation into the backgrounds of the political parties to ensure that they satisfy all the constitutional requirement before we issue them with certificates in Accra.”

He said so far about 16 political parties have registered with the EC and have been used with final certificates to operate, adding “there are two other parties namely New Vision Party (NVP) and United Love Party (ULP) who are yet to be issued with final certicates.

Mr Owusu-Parry said that the New Vision Party is expected to collect its final certificate on June 6 (today).

Under the Political Parties Act, 2000 (Act 574), “An application to register a political party shall be made to the commission and shall be accompanied with a copy of the constitution and the rules and regulations, if any, of the political party, duly signed by the interim national chairman or leader and by the interim national or general secretary of the party.” Act 574 further states: “written names and addresses of its national officers, a full description of the identifying symbols, slogans and colours, if any, of the political party, the registration fee specified in Subsection One of Section Four and such other particulars as the commission may reasonably require”.

Also, “The commission shall not register a political party under this act unless the internal organisation of the party conforms with democratic principles and its actions and purposes are not contrary to or inconsistent with the Constitution.”

The Act says the EC shall not register a political party unless “the party has on its national executive committee one member from each region, it has branches in all the regions and is, in addition, organised in not less than two-thirds of the districts in each region, there is in each district at least one founder member of the party who is ordinarily resident in the district or is a registered voter in the district”.

On the issue of the provision of particulars of national, head or regional, district and constituency offices and officers,Section 15(1) says “Within 90 days after the issue to it of a final certificate of registration, a political party shall furnish the commission with the details of the existence and location of its national, regional, district and constituency offices.”

Section 15 (2) (a) and (b) further direct: “A political party shall also, within the period specified in sub section One, submit to the commission the names, titles and addresses of its officers at the national, regional, district and constituency levels and also at such other levels of organisation as the commission may direct and the name and address of the auditors of the political party.”

Section 15 (3) (a) (b) and (c) state “Where a political party refuses or neglects to comply with this section; or makes a statement in a matter submitted to the commission under this section which is false; or has refused, neglected or failed to establish or maintain a national office or to establish or maintain a national office or to establish or maintain a regional office in every region, the commission may cancel the registration of that political party.”

Mr. Owusu-Parry said the EC will not hesitate to withdraw the certificates ifany party went contrary to the law.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

URP Urges Media To Challenge Gov’t Policies

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday, 04 June 2008
The United Renaissance Party (URP), has challenged the media to be more critical of government policies and actions to bring total development.

"The future of Ghanaians depends largely on how vibrant the media can be. It is the duty and responsibility of the media to tell the truth because without them democracy can never triumph."

Charles Kofi Wayo, leader and founder of the URP, said this at a news conference in Accra on Monday to state the party’s position on the current "state of the nation".

He said it has now become necessary for all political parties to work together to fight for what he called "the liberation of the media," since he claimed the current media was not "criticising the government hard enough".

Mr Wayo accused the government and the security agencies of being incapable in the fight against the cocaine trade which he said posed a threat to the entire nation.

"We need a grand jury probe into the circumstances leading to the influx of cocaine into Ghana.

"There is no way that drug barons would ship cocaine into Ghana if that person does not have a guarantee from those in authority."

He alleged that during the NDC regime "narcotic drug business was done in the quiet but in the NPP administration, it is done openly."

He also claimed that Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, flag-bearer of the CPP, allegedly transferred 1.4 million dollars outside the country illegally adding "he is still a citizen of the United States but is being allowed to run for the presidential election".

Mr Wayo further alleged that Nana Akufo-Addo, flag-bearer of the NPP, tabled a motion in Parliament that allowed people convicted for drug trafficking outside Ghana to be brought back home to serve their sentences.

As a result, Mr Wayo alleged that Nana Akufo-Addo’s brother-in-law called Raymond Amankwah had benefited and got his assets deconfiscated when the NPP flag-bearer was the Attorney General.

He also attacked the international community for labelling Ghana as a safe place when extreme poverty still prevails.

Answering questions on how the URP will fight the narcotic drug menace if voted into power, Mr Wayo said "there will be massive surveillance on those involved in the illicit trade".

On the issue of corruption, the URP leader said "you cannot stop it but when my government gets any culprit, that person will never have the chance to do it again".

Dr Joseph Awuja, a spokesperson for the URP, in his introductory remarks, said "a URP government will see to it that human decency prevails and should we fail within 100 days we will organise our own retirement".

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Collapse of CPP, PNC alliance...Nduom sets record straight

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday June 3, 2008
Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, flag-bearer of the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) says despite the collapse of the alliance between the party and the Peoples’ National Convention (PNC), he will continue to work to bring members of the two Nkrumahist traditions together for the December general election.

“For me, we the Nkrumahist alliance remains as agreed in our hearts with the CPP name and the proud red collared as our symbol for our march back to the flagstaff house in January 2009. I know that the rank and file of the PNC agrees with me over this.”

“This is not a matter of one party becoming the subordinate to another. It is a homecoming for all Nkrumahists. I am calling for an alliance of hearts no matter what the leaders do or fail to do, the people must maintain their belief in the cause of Nkrumahist unity.”

Dr Nduom said this in a statement he issued from the United States where he is currently on campaign tour in reaction to accusations by the leadership of the PNC that the CPP were to blame for the collapse of the alliance.

“It is important that the people of Ghana know the truth about what happened to the alliance agreement reached recently between the PNC and the CPP.”

“Nkrumahist all over the world rejoiced when, on the morning of May 14, it was reported that the PNC and the CPP had reached an agreement to enter into alliance for the 2008 election. They waited for official confirmation of this from the PNC to calm nerves but this did not happen.”

“Unfortunately, on May 22, Dr Edward Mahama, flag-bearer of the PNC held a press conference to announce the rejection of the alliance agreement by his party’s National Executive Committee but did not stop there and blamed the rejection of the alliance on what he termed a breach of trust on the party of the CPP specifically blamed me for discussing the issue in public in haste.”

Dr Nduom further said Dr Mahama had labeled him as someone he could not trust adding “in essence what Dr Mahama said is that he was denied the opportunity to discuss the agreement with his people and that he was surprised by what he heard through the media.”

Dr Nduom said “we did not enter this alliance agreement all of a sudden. The chairmen of the two parties had preliminary meetings to test the found. Dr Mahama and I also met to exchange ideas on this issue. It was when we felt that something positive could happen that the CPP’s central committee was informed about what was going on.”

He said in all those deliberation Dr Mahama had insisted that he had the mandate to negotiate and talk on behalf of the PNC from their congress adding “this he had insisted on from the vary beginning including the individual meetings with me and fro the formal alliance negotiation meetings.”

“The CPP which had the backing of its central committee asked the question of authority and we were assured that the PNC team had it. So how come after agreement is reached, Dr Mahama says he needed to seek authority from his NEC?, he asked.

“In my personal opinion it is not enough for him to apologise to his party for acting without authority and then turn around and blame others for doing what he insisted all along he had the right to do.”

Dr Nduom accused Dr Mahama of jeopardizing the aspirations of millions of Nkrumahists all over the world due to the latter’ actions and asked him to step “improving the integrity of others.”

He said “the CPP tradition believes that Ghanaian went an alternative to the NPC and the NPP. I call on the CPP family to close their ranks join and support the party to win the election”

DPP to field candidates in all constituencies

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday June 3, 2008
The Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) says it is on course to field parliamentary candidates in all the 230 constituencies for the December general election.

Mohammed Salisu Suliamana, General Secretary of the party in an interview with the Times yesterday said move than 100 aspirants have filed their nomination at the party’s various regional offices to contest the poll on the ticket of the DPP.

“People are increasingly showing interest in contesting this years’ election on the ticket of the DPP because our party has become attractive and it is also free of problems and political confusion.”

Mr Sulaimana said “the DPP has become very formidable and we will take the necessary steps to make a great impact on the election.”

He described as “a mere rhetoric,” the assertion by political commentators tat the DPP “cannot make any meaningful impact in the December election, saying “the DPP is here to stay and we will spring surprises in the poll.”

Mr Sulaimana said to achieve the objective of winning the election, will from June 12, embark on a nationwide campaign tour beginning from the Greater Accra Region.

He said the flag-bearer of the party Mr Thomas Nuako Ward-Brew and all the national executives will be part of the team that will embark on the “thank you tour”.
He also said that the DPP intends to form regional committees to adopt campaign strategies for the various constituencies in the regions.

Mr Sulaimana also said they will also embark on a fund raising tour both in and outside Ghana to enable the party to get the need funds for executive programmes for December poll.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Akufo-Addo tours North America

By William Yaw Owusu

SaturdayMay 31 2008
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party has commenced a 12-day campaign tour of North America.

He was accompanied by leading members of the party including Allan Kyerematen, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku and Dr. Kobina Arthur Kennedy all presidential aspirants during the NPP congress in December last year.

Also on the trip are Nana Ohene Ntow, NPP General Secretary, Kennedy Agyepong, Member of Parliament for Assin Fosu North , Mustapha Hamid, a Spokesman for Nana Akufo Addo and others.

The team is expected to both Canada and the United States to brief Ghanaians living in there about the NPP's preparation towards the December polls.

He will also introduce the NPP's campaign strategies for the election to the people and solicit their suppot to ensure a resounding victory for the party in December.

In Canada the Akufo-Addo team will hold a Community Welcome Forum at the Ghana Presby Church as well as 'Meet-and-Greet Breakfast' all in Toronto.

In the United States, the team will organize similar community forum at Hotel Pennsylvania near Madison Square Garden, New York, meet NPP USA mmebers, hold another community forum in Virginia Chicago and Los Angeles California.

There will also be special luncheon and dinner dance to be organized by the NPP North America branch to raise funds for the party.

Nana Akufo-Addo and his team are expected to end the tour on June 9.

Mahama on a 10-day Northern Tour

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday May 31,2008
Prof. Atta Mills' running mate for Elections '08, Hon John Dramani Mahama, has commenced a 10-day campaign tour of the 3 Northern Regions.

His campaign will take him through the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions, where he is expected to introduce himself tothe electorate and gather support forthe NDC in the upcoming elections.

He will also pay courtersy calls onthe various traditional leaders

Before he left he paid courtersy calls on all the media institutions and promised the NDC's preparedness to ensure a peaceful, credible and free and fair polls in December.

Mr. Mahama who is the MP for Bole Bamboi in the Northern Region waded into the the current debate over the intended award to be bestowed on Prof. Mills, and appealled to the public to stop reading politics into the decision taken by President Kufuor to honour the NDC flag-bearer.

He said neither the NDC nor Prof. Mills requested for the award to warrant the unecessary criticisms that has charactorised the genuine intentions of the President.

'I find the comments of some of the NPP officials as unfortunate and I think that we need to rise above partisan politics.'

'The fact of the matter is that the award to be conferred on Prof. Mills by President Kufuor would not determine who wins the 2008 elections.'

The NDC running mate said 'whether Prof. Mills receives the award or not, it would not influence or affect the NDC's resounding victory in the December election.'

'Irrespective of the positions or opinions being expressed by some members of the NPP, if the award is given to Prof. Mills, he would take it as one of the privileges.'