Friday, July 25, 2008

Parties launch code of conduct...for Election '08

Pastor Mensah Anamoa Otabil is the General Oversear of the International Central Gospel Church

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday July 25, 2008
A Political Parties’ Code of Conduct 2008, to be used as a guide in ensuring free, fair and credible elections in December, was launched in Accra yesterday.

Put together by the leadership of nine registered political parties, in collaboration with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the code which is an improvement over those prepared for the 2000 and 2004 elections, seeks among other things, to ensure a level-playing field, tolerance and pluralism for all parties contesting the election.

At the same ceremony, a committee made up of representatives of the parties and civil society organisations tasked to see to the enforcement of the code was also inaugurated under the chairmanship of Rev Dr Fred Degbe, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana.

Launching the code Pastor Mensah Otabil, General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church who gave the keynote address, advised political parties not to see elections as “a game of life and death.”

“They must allow the priorities of our nation and the welfare of its people animate their thoughts and actions so that in pursing their party’s interests, the national interest remains pre-eminent.”

Pastor Otabil said “a significant challenge we face in our national growth relates to the predictable sense of insecurity we face in the run up to all our elections since 1992. It has been 16 years and four elections, yet our national apprehension during elections remains”.

He said factors such as “some reactive measures” of the Electoral Commission, threatening language of politicians, sensationalism of the media as well as the ‘vampire’ attitude of the electorate towards politicians are responsible for the sense of unease that the country faces.

“Pride in our political associations has become a critical obstacle to forging a national unity, identity and promoting a clear national vision”.

“After leading the emancipation effort on our continent and embracing a new democratic dispensation, Ghana has a rare opportunity to model a new way of governance for Africa. To do that our political parties and other stakeholders must actively pursue best governance practices.”

Pastor Otabil further said political discourse should represent a contest of ideas, strive to live by ethics of fairness, equity and good judgement, and treat sensitive issues of national importance with sobriety and respect for the opinions of others.

“We should resist the temptation to exploit the high level of illiteracy in our nation for cheap political advantage.”

He said, “We are now 51 years as a nation and as we grow in age, it must show in our maturity. We must leave our children behaviours behind and increasingly act with more wisdom, decorum and restraint.”

Pastor Otabil said “to subordinate partisan interests does not imply the erasure of a political party’s unique value and ideology”.

He said to make the intentions of the code real, parties must first “face up to behaviours, norms and practice within our parties that must change and create a willingness in the minds of our party leadership and members to move beyond insults to the discussion of ideas”.

Nana Ohene Ntow, General Secretary of the NPP in his address pledged his party’s resolve and commitment to ensure that the December poll is peaceful and credible.

“As the party in power, it is the obligation of the NPP to ensure that the electoral process is not tampered with. We are totally committed to the protection and entrenchment of democracy in Ghana and we will do nothing to compromise the outcome of the election.”

Dr Kwabena Adjei, National Chairman of the NDC, urged all parties and stakeholders to play by the rules for “true democracy to thrive”.

“The NDC will play by the rules and engender fair competition for purposes of the stability of the country.”

Brig. Gen. Francis A. Agyemfra (rtd), a Senior Fellow of the IEA, said “the 2008 general election would be unique in terms of its competitiveness and the possibility of such intense competition degenerating into violence cannot be played down”.

He said the committee to enforce the code would be replicated in all the regions and called on all its provisions in order to safeguard the relative peace and tranquility of the country.

The parties that signed the code are the NPP, NDC, CPP, PNC and DFP. The others are the Egle Party, United Love Party, United Renaissance Party and the Ghana National Party.

Disabled accuse political parties of neglect

By William Yaw Owusu & Fabian Reinbold

Friday July 25, 2008
The Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) and the disability community have criticised some political parties for being insensitive to the cause to ensure that the welfare of persons with disability is properly taken care of.

At the launch of “The disability agenda for Election 2008”, in Accra on Wednesday, to discuss how best the political parties could take up the issue of persons with disability, only the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP) and he Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) out of the numerous registered political parties sent representatives to the forum.

Samuel Kwasi Asare, President of the GFD bemoaned the rate at which political parties have kept mute over the welfare of persons with disability in their campaigns and manifestoes.

“We have more than 15 registered political parties in this country but looking at their response to our issues we believe we have a long way to go”.

He said even though there is the persons with Disability Act 2006, Act 715, the governing council that would make the act effective has still not been inaugurated by the government.

Mr Asare said most of the issues raised in the disability agenda for the election have been catered for in the Disability Act but the continuous disregard for issues of persons with disability by politicians “has compelled us to ask them to tell us what they have for us should they win the election.”

Yaw Ofori Debrah, President of the Association for the Blind said persons with disability want to be included in the governance of the country saying “we have competent people who can take up positions in governance but we are always left out and what they plan for us has always been an after taught”.

“If we get the chance to be there we would be able to influence policies in our favour and we are calling on all political parties to include us in their manifestoes”.

“Mere pronouncements and promises are not enough. We are pleading with you that we are an important constituent in the political landscape. Give us what is due us.”

When the political parties took their turns to address them, Thomas Nuako Ward-Brew, flag-bearer of the DPP, who was the first to speak said “society should not have waited until such people raised their voices. We should have acted long ago”.

He said we are wasting enormous resources on politics instead of channeling some of these resources to see to the welfare of persons with disability and to ensure accelerated development.

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Chairman of the NPP Manifesto Committee said the ruling party “is fully committed to the body and spirit of Act 715 which will bring some relief to persons with diability.”

He said “there are a lot of follow ups in the Act which are under serious consideration”, adding “our manifesto which is yet to be launched has more room for persons with disability.”

“The NPP believes strongly that persons with disability should be given the opportunity to contribute to the development of this great country.”

Ivor Kobina Greenstreet, General Secretary of the CPP said “issues of the welfare of persons with disability should be handled in a non-partisan manner”.

He said the CPP manifesto launched on Tuesday dwells on issues of persons with disability, adding “people with disability should consider the CPP a faithful partner as far such issues are concerned”.

A representative from the United States of America International Development Agency (USAID), sponsors of the programme, urged political parties to help in the creation of an enabling environment for such persons to enable them to play an effective role is the development of the country.

The Disability Agenda for the election dwells on disability rights, social life, employment, education health and governance.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

D.P.P. SUES I.E.A.... And 4 Political Parties

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday, 24 July 2008
The Democratic People’s Party (DPP), has filed contempt proceedings at an Accra High Court against the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the leadership of the four political parties with representation in Parliament for "wilfully and deliberately defying and ignoring the pendency of a motion for interlocutory injunction’.

The substantive motion, filed on November 14, last year, is seeking a declaration that the Dutch Institute of Multi-Party Democracy (IMC) of the Netherlands and the IEA funding the NPP, NDC, CPP and PNC is illegal and unlawful and contravenes the constitution and political parties law 2000, Act 574.

In an ex-parte motion for contempt jointly filed yesterday by the DPP and its First National Chairman, Gyebi Mensah Tettey, the plaintiffs claimed "the defendants are interfering with a pending judicial proceeding thereby undermining the rule of law, showing disrespect to the administration of justice and bringing into disrepute the good standing integrity of the court".

The four parties were cited together with the IEA for contempt because the DPP claimed "they have actively participated in the illegality being perpetrated by the IEA and have contravened certain provisions of the Constitution."

The DPP in the substantive suit, also wants an order by the court to compel the defendants to respect the laws and Constitution of the country and to ensure a level-playing-field for all political parties in the December general election.

In the supporting affidavit, the DPP claimed that in January 2003, the IEA executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dutch Institute of Multi-Party Democracy (IMD), Netherlands; the NPP, NDC, PNC and CPP under which the IMD started providing cash and making other contributions to the said registered parties which have representations in parliament.

"Starting from July 2003, the sum of 4,500 dollars was paid to each of the four registered political parties and by the end of July 2008 the total sum to be received by the parties would be 270,000 dollars."

The DPP further claimed that apart from the cash, the parties received computers, office furniture, equipment and air-conditioners and also benefited from capacity programmes and sponsored trips abroad provided by the IMD.

"Meanwhile, there were 12 parliamentary by-elections in several parts of the country and with the exception of the NPP and NDC, the CPP and PNC could not take part in most of the said exercise".

The DPP averred that the Dutch IMD-IEA funding for the four political parties is illegal and unlawful adding, "It violates section 24 and 25 of the Political Parties Law 2000 (Act 574)."

The applicants stated that the IMD-IEA programme discriminates against the remaining registered political parties, undermines transparency and the existence of the principle of level playing-field as well as the introduction of unfairness into the country’s electoral process and generates manipulation into the system.

"The DPP is seeking a declaration that the Dutch IMD-IEA attempt to restrict its definition of a registered political party to parties with membership in Parliament is at variance with the definition of political parties Law 2000 (Act 574) and the registration of political parties constitutes the only benchmark recognised under the law".

"The DPP wants an order to compel the four parties to refund to the Electoral Commission the total sums of monies they have unlawfully received from the scheme," the affidavit stated.

CPP launches its manifesto

Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, Presidential hopeful for the Convention People's Party displaying a copy of the party's manifesto

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday July 23, 2008
THE Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) yesterday became the second political party after the Peoples’ National Convention to launch its manifesto for the 2008 general election.

The colourful ceremony held at the Coconut Groove Regency Hotel in Accra was attended by CPP stalwarts and sympathizers from all over Ghana.

Launching the 96-page document dubbed “New dawn, new vision,” Dr Pea Keri Doom, CPP flag-bearer said “in 1957 there were excitement enthusiasm and a high spirit of patriotism as Ghanaians basked in the glory of living in a newly independent country. In 2008 Ghanaians are crying for something new, different, inspiring and a leadership of the people from them that will break the back of poverty and lead to prosperity for all.

He said the manifesto “is promising a new dawn that is refreshing and promises a leadership that is committed to a sense of urgency to tackle national development.”

A Doom said “our community based campaign enabled us to enter into a variety of communities in the regions, interact with key stakeholders, listen and learn from the public in order to test our strength and appeal and this has been a serious, comprehensive and fulfilling campaign so far.”

He said in all the areas visited key issues such as unemployment, corruption and a caring government among others have been raised by the electorate adding “what Ghanaians want are the basic - a job that will pay a living wage, a roof over the head. Good drinking water, uninterrupted power supply, a good education for their children, good health and freedom to be what they choose to be”.

Dr Doom said for instance that since the CPP government under Dr Nkrumah was overthrown there had not been any meaningful attempt by subsequent governments to bridge the developmental gap between the southern and northern parts of the country.

“It has been made very clear to us that Ghanaians want change. Moreover, they want an alternative to the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party. They know ad have experienced what the two have to offer and they are not just looking for any kind of change, they want a change they can feel in their pockets”.

He urged CPP sympathizers to work hard to ensure a resounding victory for the party saying “the campaign for the Flagstaff House should not be about noise, songs dances and which party can bus a huge crowd to rallies. We must show that we are ready to administer the affairs of the country from day one when we assume office.”

Dr Doom said the CPP lies on the foundation of three principles - social justice, self-determination and Pan Africanism and would pursue it vigorously when voted into office in the December poll.

The CPP’s 10 point agenda captured the manifesto include the creation of a just and disciplined society, improve performance of government, give power to the people and strengthen parliament to perform its legislative duties effectively.

Others are the provision of quality education for every Ghanaian child, provide abundant energy for industrilisation and rapid development, provision of better healthcare and cleaner environment, attack crime, narcotics drug trade and corruption, creation of homecoming secreta not as well as the creation of jobs.

The CPP believers that if the 10-point agenda is pursued vigorously, it will ensure accelerations of the country from a developing to a developed nation

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dan Lartey calls on Chief Imam

Mr Dan lartey is the founder and Presidential hopeful of the Great Consolidated Popular Party in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday July 19 2008
THE flag-bearer of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) Dan Lartey, has urged the electorate to reject both the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress in the December poll because of what he called “their politics of insult and division.”

“The utterances of some officials of both the NPP and the NDC are threatening the stability of this country and the time has come for the electorate to vote for the GCPP to bring unity and peace needed for the country’s development.”

Mr Lartey gave the advice when he paid a courtesy call on the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharabutu at his residence in Accra on Thursday.

He had led a team of GCPP national executives to the Chief Iman’s residence at Fadama to introduce himself as the flag-bearer of the party for the December poll and solicit the spiritual leaders’ support for the election.

Speaking in Gas Mr Lartey said “Islam is playing a significant contribution in the development of the country and nobody seeking political office can ignore those practicing the Islamic faith.”

He stressed the need for religious tolerance in the country saying “whether you are a Christian ort Muslim we are all one people. We should rather not allow politicians to divide us out forge ahead in unity for the healthy growth of the country.”

Mr Lartey said a GCPP Administration would introduce free and quality education and ensure that every child goes to school adding “I will introduce a policy that will ensure that parents who flout the free education policy are prosecuted in a law court.”

He also promised to ensure equitable distribution of state resources for greater prosperity.”

“The other parties are making empty promises but the GCPP would keep to its promise of harnessing the potential natural and human resources to the benefit of every Ghanaian.”

The GCPP flag-bearer said the party would field parliamentary candidate in all the 230 constituencies saying “we will shock the major parties in December.”

The Chief Imam speaking through an interpreter promised to follow the GCPP flag-bearer in prayers in his political endeavours saying “it is my wish t hat a good leader takes over after the election.”

He later offered a special prayer for Mr Lartey and his entourage.

Anxiety over Tema West NPP primary

NPP logo

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday July 19 2008
Some New Patriotic Party polling station chairperson in the Tema West constituency have made a fervent appeal to the party executives at the regional and national level to as a matter of urgency fix a date for the primary to be held.

They claimed that the silence by the regional executives of the party over a definite date on which a primary is to be held to select a candidate for the party is fuelling speculation that one of the two aspirants is being favoured for the ticket.

The contest is between Abraham Osei-Aidoo, the incumbent MP and majority Leader and Irene Naa Torshie Addo, a lawyer and Deputy Head of Mission at the Ghana Embassy in the United States.

Paul Azure Sampana, Tema Wes Constituency Chairman at a news conference yesterday said the electorate in the constituency had waited too long to see their parliament any candidate as well as make preparations towards serious campaigning.

He said almost all the constituencies have selected their candidates. We all expected ours to be done before the outdooring of our flag-bearer but this was not instead those responsible for fixing the date have remained adamant as if we do not have any serious business ahead of us.”

Mr Sampana said as a result of the delay, the attempt to campaign vigorously to retain the seat is being hampered adding “some of the pooling station chairpersons are even threatening not to take part in the effort to get the youth registered when the voters register opens”.

“We want the primary held immediately so that we can have enough time to campaign vigorously.”

When contacted, Irene Naa Torshie Addo said the delay in holding the primary principles of the NPP.”

“A petition against me which the executives claimed was accounting for the delay in holding the primary has been dismissed as frivolous and unmeritorious and Mr Peter Mac Manu, our National Chairman has since said there is going to be primary in Tema West.”

She said “When I ask for the date for primary, Mr Mac Manu told me that my contender is leading a parliamentary delegation to Malaysia for 10 days but this does not stop the executives from fixing a date for the primary.”

She said there were other constituencies where candidates were selected in absentia, citing Dome Kwabenya where Prof. Mike Ocquaye won the contest in the absence of Ajoa Safo, daughter of Apostle Kwadwo Safo of Christo Asafo.

“We will wait for my contender to come back from his trip but a date must be fixed so that we all know our fate”, saying “if all others had dates for primaries, why are they hiding it from Tema West.”

“The executives are being unfair to me. They are making things appear as if they are on the side of one the contenders, but the constitution of the NPP is superior than any member in the party.”

When contacted on telephone, Mr. Osei-Addo dismissed the delegation that the party executives are favouring, saying “I do not fix dates for primaries to be held.”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

NPP has managed economy well - Dr. Apraku

Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku is the Campaign Director of the Ruling New Patriotic Party in Ghana

From William Yaw Owusu, Kasoa

Wednesday July 16, 2008
Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Campaign Director of the New Patriotic Party on Sunday stated that the NPP administration has been able to manage Ghana’s economy better than any other government in is 51 year history.

“Since assuming office in 2001, the NPP has demonstrated beyond all doubts that it is the best manager of the country’s economy and when we talk about the ability to manage the economy of this country, the National Democratic Congress has no chance.’

Dr Apraku said this when he took his turn to address a mammoth rally organised by the NPP to outdoor Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the party’s flag bearer.

The NPP also used the occasion on Sunday to introduce the party’s parliamentary candidates who have been selected so far to contest the December pool.

Dr Apraku said “the huge crowd gathered here today in an indication of the believe that the people have in our flag-bearer and this great party,” adding “Ghanaian have noticed that the NDC is a big threat to the fortunes of the country’s economy and that is why they desire to see the got the chance to rule the country, adding that “the NPP had to declare Ghana HIPC in 2001 in order to make up for what was host.”

He said “the NPP administration has been able to bring inflation down and stabilize our economy”, adding “Ghana has been accepted worldwide due to our prudent management of the economy and the consolidation of our democracy.”

Yaw Osafo-Maafo, a former Minister and a member of the Akufo-Addo campaign team asked the electorate to compare the performances and records of all political parties before casting their ballots.

“Election is about comprism of records and I know that when it comes to performance the NDC is nowhere near the NPP

Dan Kwaku Botwe, former General Secretary and the NPP parliament any candidate for Okere urged all those who have turned 18 years to take advantage of the impending reopening of the voters registration exercise to register to vote in December.

Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mohama who spoke in Dagbani urged the people to continue to have confidence in the NPP administration by retaining the party in office in the December poll.

Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, NPP campaign chairman said the only way for the NDC to compete with the NPP is to tell lies to the electorate.

“Initially they claimed our flag-bearer was taking drugs. Now they are saying he is not a lawyer. But I can assure you that Nana Akufo-Addo does not take alcohol nor smoke neither does he use drugs. He is a qualified and competent lawyer.”

NDC accuses government of extravagance

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday July 16, 2008
The National Democratic Congress yesterday accused President J.A. Kufuor and his NPP administration of “becoming intoxicated with power” and “exhibiting extravagant lifestyle.”

“About seven and half years ago, when President Kufuor assume office, we had reason to believe that he would adopt modesty, that had become the personal trait of all our political leaders but to the dismay of every objective Ghanaian, our president has shown that in terms of egoism he over shadows all our past leaders.”

Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, deputy General of the NDC said this at a news conference in Accra yesterday to respond “to events that have taken place in this country under the Kufuor Administration.

He claimed “on July 3, at the National awards day, the President exhibited the most repentant part of his personal trait by creating “the order of the star and eagles” award as the highest national award and shamelessly awarded himself."

Flanked by to party executives of the NDC including National Chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei, said the invoice on the medals from the manufacturers showed that Ghana ordered 515 insignia and medals in various categories at the cost of 740,000 pounds sterling.

“What President Kufuor be-decked himself alone is now known to ¢600 million and ordering about twice the medals needed for other categories of awards to be kept for the next President and other award winners in the future is pure ex-post facto rationalization.”

Mr Ankrah alleged that the procurement of goods and services in the name of the president’s successors had become “one significant hallmark of the Kufuor Presidency,” adding “why on earth does the President enter into contracts and procure goods that would be delivered when he has ceased to be in office?”

He also said the government had failed to submit to parliament the full account of the 25 million dollars earmarked for the celebration of Ghana’s 50th anniversary celebration .

Mr Ankrah further said a future NDC government reserves the right to review the sale of the country’s 70 per cent shares in Ghana Telecom saying “the whole transaction has been shrouded in secrecy.’

He promised a review of the National award scheme to ensure that “the choice of people to be honoured in more participatory and non-partisan,” and commended those in the NDC who declined to take the awards.

Dr. Kwabena Adjei for his part urged the media to continue the fight against what he termed “corruption and property owning democracy.”

Alhaji Hudu Yahaya, former General Secretary and a leading member of the NDC said the party’s MPs were doing their best in the house but were not given the needed attention to correct some of these defects in governance.

GCPP accuses IEA of discrimination

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday July 16,2008
The Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) has declared its intention to join the suit in which the Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) is taking the Institute of Economic Affairs to court for an alleged discrimination.

In the run up to Election 2008, the IEA has been organizing series of debates for flag-bearers of only four political parties to share their vision fund policies with the public.

The IEA’s reason for dealing with the four political parties is that, the parties: New Patriotic Party, National Democratic Congress, Convention Peoples’ Party and the Peoples’ National Convention are the only parties in the country with representations in parliament.

But Mr Dan Lartey leader and founder of the GCPP says “what the IEA is doing is against our constitution.”

He was speaking in Accra on Monday after he had led a team pay a courtesy call on the Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Tawiah III and his elders at the Ga Mantse Palace.

He used the occasion to also introduce himself as the flag-bearer of the GCPP for the December poll.

He claimed that once the IEA is using the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) to solicit funds from the Netherlands to organise programmes for the political parties, the institute needed to involve all registered political parties in its activities.

Mr Dan Lartey said “the IEA is creating the impression that there they are the only body or institution in the country that can influence the political process and by so doing they have allowed foreign influence in our political landscape.”

He said “the IEA’s contention that only parties with representation in parliament will be engaged in their activities cannot be right and that is why we are partnering the DPP to institute legal action against the institute.

“I have asked my lawyers to join the suit and it will be heard any moment from now.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kasoa Hosts NPP

President Kufuor of Ghana introducing his sucessor Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the December 7, Election in Ghana

the crowd of New Patriotic Party supporters at Kasoa

By William Yaw Owusu & Salifu Abdul Rahaman

Monday, 14 July 2008
Kasoa, in the Central Region, was yesterday thrown into a state of frenzy when the New Patriotic Party held a mammoth national rally to formally introduce Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the party’s flag-bearer for Election 2008.

The ruling party also used the occasion to introduce some of its parliamentary candidates for the December 7 poll.

As early as 6 a.m. party supporters clad in NPP colours, most with T-shirts embossed with the picture of the flag-bearer and parliamentary candidates had started thronging the Kasoa Old Market, the venue for the rally, amid cheers, singing and dancing.

By 11 a.m. the entire Kasoa town had been drowned in NPP colours and the venue packed, awaiting the arrival of President J.A. Kufuor and Nana Akufo-Addo.

The road from Accra to Kasoa had also been decorated with NPP paraphernalia.

The rally ground was decorated with NPP colours and two giant billboards of the flag-bearer as well as two huge balloon elephants, the party’s symbol.

By 10 a.m. every inch of space at the rally ground had been occupied and supporters and sympathisers ignored the heat under the scorching sun, drumming and dancing to await the arrival of the flag-bearer and President Kufuor who both arrived at exactly 4:15 p.m.

The flag-bearer, wearing a beautiful smock designed in NPP colours, was the first to enter the rally ground closely followed by President Kufuor wearing white linen designed in NPP colours.

The security agencies who were there in their numbers had it tough controlling the crowd which had spilled over into the main Accra-Cape Coast highway.

The two leaders were cheered by the ecstatic crowd and they in turn waved back.

The crowd was so thick that when President Kufuor mounted the platform, obviously elated he remarked: "I have been in politics for over 40 years but have never seen a crowd like this one in my life."

President Kufuor who spoke in Twi, later anointed Nana Akufo-Addo as his successor by taking a party flag and symbolically handing it over to the flag-bearer to signify the transfer of leadership of the party.

When Nana Akufo-Addo took his turn, he asked for a minute’s silence to be observed to offer prayers and thanks to God for the peace that the country is currently enjoying.

Vice President Alhaji Alui Mahama, and a host of other dignitaries, including the party’s executives, Ministers of State and former Ministers, took turns to address the crowd on the policies of the NPP government and the need to retain the party in office.

They spoke in many languages, including English, Akan, Dagbani, Hausa and Ewe

Friday, July 11, 2008

Presidential Debate Committee inaugurated

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday July 11, 2008
THE Presidential debate to be organized by the Institute of Economic Afffairs in October and November will not include flag-bearers who do not have representations in Parliament, Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson, Chairman of the Committee to plan the debate has said.

“However, another platform will be created for the other parties and aspirants as and when they formally file their candidacy with the Electoral Commission to contest the December poll.”

With this development, only the flag-bearers of the Convention People’s Party, Nation al Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party and the People’s National Convention are expected o debate each other in Tamale for the Northern Sector in October and Accra for the Southern Sector in November.

At the inauguration in Accra on Wednesday of an 11-member planning committee drawn from public, professional religious and civil society organisations Cardinal Turkson said “no substitute would be allowed to speak or make a presentation on behalf of the flag-bearer.”

He said “to avoid needless controversy and perceptions of bias, uniform guidelines with respect to time and other matters would be laid down well in advance of every debate.”

He said there will be two moderators for each debate and the caucus of national party chairmen will make some inputs into the final programme for the debate.

Cardinal Turkson said “there will be a ballot before the debate begins to determine which candidate answers first and seating arrangements.”

He said they are expected to answer questions from the moderators and will get the opportunity to critique each others policies and each aspirant will get three minutes to do self introduction and what he stands for.

He said the debate which is expected to last for about two and half hours will be telecast live both radio and television and each aspirant will be provided with 15 invitation cards including security defail.

At question time, Cardinal Turkson said that “in engaging in this healthy contest of ideas, the candidates submit themselves and their party manifestoes to the critical assessment and evaluation of the electorate, thereby proving that the mandate that the candidate seek are derived from the electorate.”

Mrs Jean Mensah, Administrator of the I.E.A said the selection of members of the planning committee was carefully done to ensure a successful debate.

DPP to field candidates in all constituencies

Lawyer Thomas Nuako Ward-Brew is the founder and Presidential hopeful of the Democratic Peoples' Party in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday July 11, 2008
The Democratic Peoples’ Party says it has completed the selection of about 150 parliamentary aspirants to be registered by the party to contest the December poll on its ticket.

Mohammed Salisu Sulaimana, General Secretary of the DPP in an interview with the Times yesterday said “we have resolved to field candidates in all the constituencies and this is just the beginning of many things to come."

He said the DPP has received requests from aspirants in all the constituencies in the Northern region except Mion where a candidate is yet to be selected while in the Upper east and West Regions two constituencies each are yet to select candidates.

He further said that 60 per cent of the candidates have been selected to contest in Ashanti, Western and Central Regions respectively while the Volta Region has selected about 45 per cent of its candidates.

“We are hoping to select candidates for the whole Greater Accra Region by the end of this months so that they can support us to intensity our campaign.

He said all the candidates selected so far, about 70 per cent are youth, adding the DPP wants to position the youth to enable them to take over the political landscape of this country.”

The West generation has undermined the youth politically but the DPP will offer them the platform to assert their political rights.”

Mr Sulaimana also condemned the recent punishment matted out to drivers by some military personnel saying “I know this was done with the endorsement of the military command but an individual who though he could instill some military discipline in the drivers.”

He also urged the drivers to be law abiding saying “there is too much indiscipline on our roads but this kind of punishment leaves much to be desired.”

Monday, July 07, 2008

PNC Flag-Bearer Interacts With Road And Building Contractors

Dr. Edward N. Mahama is the Presidential hopeful of the Peoples' National Convention in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday,July 07, 2008
The flag-bearer of the Peoples’ National Convention, Dr. Edward N Mahama on Friday interacted with members of both the Association of Road Contractors and Building and Civil Engineering Contractors to learn at first hand the problems within the sector.

The forum themed "The Construction industry and Election 2008", is the first in a series of fora being organised by the ASROC and ABECEG to get the flag-bearers of the political parties to share their opinion and plans for the industry with the public.

In his address, Dr. Mahama said a PNC led government would wipe out the bureaucracy in the award and payment of contracts to ensure accelerated growth of the industry.

"There is too much in the system and this is breeding corruption. I am aware that before an applicant gets a job, that contract would have gone through over 100 signatures".

He said the time has come for those in authority to revive what he called "the we can do it" attitude in the citizenry in order to put aside the attitude of always waiting for foreigners to do things for the country.

"The Public Works Department were able to build Job 600—with Ghanaian Civil Engineers so why can we not do it this time around. Ghana must learn to pull her own weight".

Dr Mahama said award of contracts in the construction industry "should go to professionals and not just anybody", adding "in these days in Ghana anybody is a contractor and this is hugely accounting for the shoddy jobs we see everyday".

"A PNC administration will have a national programme in which the construction industry will feature prominently and we will strictly live within it.

The PNC flag-bearer further said in his administration, people with technical skills will get huge salaries than those who are unskilled saying "we have to make our education practical and not theoretical.

Mr Twumasi Mensah, National chairman of ASROC, in an introductory remark said "we have suffered a down turn of the industry because we lack the needed funds and do not get paid for work done on time.

He also expressed concern about the influx of foreign contractors whom he said "are now taking over the smaller contracts which the local contractors are capable of executing".

Edward Amanor, Chairman of the Greater Accra Regional branch of ABECEG, in a closing remark urged all members in the construction industry to come together to present a common voice to the authorities to ensure a better future for the industry.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

PNC Flag-Bearer At The 'Encounter'

Dr. Edward Mahama is the Presidential hopeful of the Peoples' National Convention

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday, 05 July 2008
Dr. Edward N. Mahama, flag-bearer of the People’s National Convention has promised a ‘Golden Age of Increased Productivity’ as a pragmatic step towards accelerated national development when the PNC gets the mandate in the December poll.

"The PNC will usher in GAIP as contrasted to the current ‘Golden Age of Business’ which is only about buying and selling of imported goods. The PNC believes that income earned should comensurate with levels of productivity in order to create wealth and reduce poverty drastically."

Dr. Mahama made the promise when he took his turn at an ‘Evening Encounter’, a programme designed to offer a platform for flag-bearers of the registered parties to share their vision with the public.

Organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) under the auspices of the Ghana Political Parties Programmes (GPPP) the ‘Encounter’ gives the public the opportunity to be properly informed about all options and proposals being offered by the Presidential aspirants and the political parties.

The programme telecast live both on television and radio, further enables the electorate to discern what each aspirant stands for, what each aspirant intends to do and the direction in which each aspirant intends to take Ghana.

The PNC flag-bearer said the GAIP would focus on agriculture since the sector continues to be the largest contibutor of the country’s gross domestic product where over 54 per cent of the workforce are engaged in that sector and other agric-related business.

He said "agriculture employs 54 per cent of the labour force and accounts for 70 per cent of the activity of the rural population but sadly the sector continues to show poor growth mainly due to the lack on infrastructural development".

He said a PNC administration would involve farmer based associations and other agricultural related stakeholders in the formulation of agricultural policies to ensure that farmers and fishermen are able to increase production on a sustainable basis.

On the National Health Insurance Scheme, Dr. Mahama said the PNC would review, strengthen and expand the NHIS adding "the scheme is currently being implemented on one leg,and this has accounted for the teething problems associated with its administration".

"Under a PNC Government in January 2009, the other leg of the scheme known as Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO) would be outdoored to give full complement to NHIS," he added

Dr Mahama said HMO would focus on strategies to keep Ghanaians healthy so that the NHIS would not be over utilized to bankruptcy, adding "if you buy a car insurance you do not leave the maintenance of the car so that you can get an accident and then claim insurance damages. Instead you make sure that your breaks, wind shield wiper and other parts are in order to avoid accident."

The HMO, he said, would incorporate all current public and preventive medicine approaches such as immunisations, maternal and child health into an active health promotion effort.

Dr Mahama described corruption as a canker that has inhibited Ghana’s development and said a PNC Government would fight it using the President and ensuring legislative and governance checks.

At the personal level, Dr Mahama said the President who is the number one citizen on the land, must be seen to abhor corruption, indicating "that is what my presidency would be ready to provide".

He said "the era of do as I say and not as I do would be a thing of the past provide leadership by example for all to follow", adding that "a PNC government would enforce existing laws and enact more stringent laws to deter people from engaging in corrupt practices."

He said the Attorney General’s Office would be separated from the Ministry of Justice to enhance efforts at fighting corruption at governmental level and also to enable the impartial Attorney General to prosecute all offences both in the private and public institutions without regard to political affiliations.

On education, Dr. Mahama said a PNC administration would expand the school feeding programme by feeding each child at school with a piece of chicken grown locally saying "by this way we will be reducing the unbridled and unfair importation of poultry products into the country to boost our local poultry industry".

He said the PNC would focus on mathematics, science, technical skills and another subject called, ‘Thinking’ to help the children to solve their own problems.

He also said each regional capital would be given a university as well as give scholarships to students and involve the private sector in the provision of accommodation for students to be subsidised by the government.

Regarding energy, Dr. Mahama said that a PNC administration would further explore hydro, wind, solar, thermal, nuclear and bio-fuels adding "in the case of solar, we will advocate a sub-regional project that includes Burkina-Faso, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Niger, Mali and Libya since funding for such a project would be easier to secure because of its mult-national nature".

On the discovery of oil, the PNC flag-bearer said his admininstartion would involve all stakeholders especially communities to be affected by the exploration in the sharing of the revenue in order to avoid the Niger Delta situation in Nigeria.

A PNC administration would introduce a National Drug and Substance Abuse Policy to combat abuse of drugs and also put in measures that would make it impossible for drug trafficking to thrive in Ghana.

He also promised to increase the size of the police service, motivate and equip them with the needed logistics to be able to fight crime especially robbery.

The first flag-bearer to appear on the ‘Encounter’ was Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention Peoples’ Party, followed by Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress and then Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tsatsu's sentencing is NPP plot - Rawlings

Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings is the former President of Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday July 2 2008
Ex President J.J Rawlings yesterday alleged that the sentencing of Tsatsu Tsikata is a calculated attempt by the New Patriotic Party government to intimidate the people in order to hold on to power.

The sentencing of Mr. Tsikata, a noble citizen, has nothing to do with the false charges preferred against him. It has everything to do with the NPP’s attempt to test the will and capacity of people who are willing to resist this corrupt government.

The former president was addressing the press at his residence at Ridge in Accra. He had convened the media to brief them about the recent political and socio-economic development in the country.

Flanked by his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, some members of Parliament and executives the National Democratic Congress, ex-president Rawlings said “the NPP can no longer rule and have resorted to intimidation of the people.”

He said the international community continues to condemn President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe while showering praises on the NPP administration, adding “the only difference between Zimbabwe and Ghana is that the people there are fleeing that country but over here we have been shut into coercive silence and nowhere to run.”

He said the Ya-Na Yakubu Andani, overlord of Dagbon who was killed together with about 40 of his elders as well as Alhaji Issah Mobilla, murdered in the custody of the military were all not guilty of anything but rather “the NPP needed to emasculate itself by stamping an electrifying authority on the citizenry.”

He alleged that known culprits in the murder of Ya-Na were still walking free saying, “Justice has not been done that is why there is still tension in the area.”

The former President said “you have emerged from a difficult revolution .You are too strong for people with questionable characters to rule you.”

He claimed that a senior police officer had to resign from the service because he (the officer) advised against the plot to kill the Ya-Na and himself (ex-president Rawlings) but the NPP did not listen to that advice.

He also said that when the three judges and a retired army officer were murdered, his administration set up a committee to investigate and bring to book the culprits, adding “the Ya Na and Mobilla did not get this.”

He said the NPP administration is silently suppressing and oppressing the people without the attention of the international media, describing the situation as “a shameless class war.”

The former president further said the members of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) did “a shameless job and got rewarded by the NPP.”

He said “the NPP is living above the law; they have a hatred for fundamental truth and have resorted to rule of rule instead of rule of law”.

He also attacked the NPP flag-bearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, saying “he keeps singing law order and democracy but it was under his tenure as Attorney General that the NPP set a shameful record of packing the Supreme Court to overturn the Fast Track Court verdict.”

He also said a recent announcement by the NPP Flag-bearer to increase the sizes of the police service to 50,000 is unnecessary, saying “they want to turn the police against you. How far is this idea from black apartheid?”

“Kufuor’s people are too guilty to leave office but no matter what they do the people are determined to show them the exit in the December polls.”

He also had a word for the NDC, a party he formed, saying “not a single lesson has been learned by some of our members. On rare occasion when there is an attempt to offer counselling it was taken too late.

“The NPP would not have had the intoxicated confidence to jail some of our people if we had not allowed them.”

Ex-President Rawlings also urged the NDC supporters not to wait till election day before showing their support for the party saying “do not let anybody from the NPP or anyone from the security agencies to tell you what you know better.

It was supposed to be a press conference, but after his speech the press did not get the opportunity to ask him any questions.

The huge crowd of NDC supporters, that outnumbered the journalists by far, immediately surrounded him to talk to him.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nana Akufo-Addo at the 'Encounter'

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is the Presidential Hopeful of the ruling New Patriotic Party in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday June 28 2008
THE controversy over Tsatsu Tsikata sentencing reared up when Nana Akufo-Addo, flag-bearer of the New Patriotic Party took his turn at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ ‘Encounter with Presidential aspirants’, in Accra on Thursday.

At question time, a reporter asked whether the sentencing of Mr Tsikata, a former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, in the absence of his counsel amounted to a violation of his human rights.

Nana Akufo-Addo, a constitutional lawyer responded that it is legally acceptable for a court to take its decisions in the absence of defence counsel.

He explained however, that if those decisions infringed on the rights of the individual he or she is at liberty to use the same judicial processes to seek redress.

“We do not want to live in a country where the courts themselves become agents of human rights abuse.”

Nana Akufo-Addo said “I do not like to comment on the decisions of the court. I was not in the country when the Fast Track High Court took its decision but I believe that when all the facts are made known we will see whether or not the court acted wrongly.”

“The trial judge in the case is a respected member of the bench. I do not think the judge will take any irresponsible decision being a refined criminal lawyer herself.
Nana Akufo-Addo said he will sponsor the facilitation of the passage of Right to Information Bill when given the nod in the December poll as president.

“The passage of the RTI bill would be passed within the early months of my administration to boost other intervention by government especially the Whistleblowers Law in the fight against corruption.”

Nana Akufo-Addo said he is committed to developing a modern society where the economy would grow at the rate of 10 per cent, rate improve the time for processing business applications and reduce the time for doing business in Ghana.

“The NPP government under President Kufuor has suceeded in laying a solid foundation to ensure accelerated growth and when given the nod, I will build on the foundation to ensure a prosperous Ghana.”

On agriculture, Nana Akufo-Addo said the government will irrigate the northern part of the country and the Accra plains to increase food production and reduce hunger in the country.

He said the northern part of Ghana is capable of becoming a bread basket in the West African subregion and promised to modernise the agric sector for that purpose.

He said he would ensure a value addition to the country’s raw materials, intensify the process of decentralisation and reform the public sector to ensure efficiency in government business.

Nana Akufo-Addo said, “I will be action oriented, demanding results, chase progress, reject bureaucracy.”

On haphazard development of cities and towns, Nana Akufo-Addo said, “I would enforce zoning regulations to ensure proper planning of our towns and cities with provisions made for parks, schools and other recreational facilities’.

He said his government would support real estate developers to construct at least 50,000 affordable houses to ease the accommodation problems facing the country.

He said about 20,000 sanitation inspectors would be deployed to deal with the problem of sanitation and increase resources for garbage treatment.

On security, the NPP flag-bearer said, “I will increase the number of police personnel in the country to 50,000 within the next five years from the current 22,000, provide modern security training and equipment to tackle the challenges of security facing the country’.

On education, Nana Akufo-Addo said a next NPP government would establish one university in every region in Ghana, expand infrastructure of existing tertiary institutions to enable many more people to attain high quality education.

He said Eastern and Volta regions will have new universities and also improve infrastructure in all the existing ones adding “the University for Development Studies, which has three campuses in Tamale, Navrongo and Wa would be strengthened”.

“Government will absorb additional user fees for science students to encourage the study of science.”

Nana Akufo-Addo said the nation would spend about 75 million Ghana cedis to implement free compulsory secondary education programme and teacher training colleges would be upgraded to tertiary level to train more qualitative teachers who would be capable of implementing the New Education Reform.

He said the school feeding programme would be expanded to enable parents send their children to school.

The NPP flag-bearer said he was committed to ensuring that the gap in education between the north and south of the country is bridged.

On decentralisation, Nana Akufo-Addo said the District Assembly Common Fund would be increased from five per cent to ten per cent to enable district assemblies to undertake development projects for the benefit of the majority of the people.

Nana Akufo-Addo said he would institute measures to collaborate with agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom in the fight against the narcotic drug trade and trans border crime.

Nana Akufo-Addo called on all Ghanaians to contribute to the success of the 2008 Election since the world would be watching Ghana.

The IEA under the auspices of the Ghana Political Parties Programmes (GPPP) has designed the “ Encounter” to offer platform for flag-bearers of the registered parties to share their vision with the public.

It gives the public the opportunity to be properly informed about all options and proposals being offered by the Presidential aspirants and the political parties.

The ‘Encounter’ further enables the electorate to discern what each aspirant stands for, what each aspirant intends to do and the direction in which each aspirant intends to take Ghana.

The programme was broadcast live on Ghana Television and Joy FM.