Monday, May 26, 2008

Confusion In Akwatia NPP

A section of members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at Akwatia in the Eastern Region have threatened not to vote for the parliamentary aspirant of the party during the December elections.

They explained that their decision was based on the way the entire Akwatia constituency executives openly supported Dr Kofi Asare to win the recent constituency primaries.

The members of the party who issued the threat are supporters of Mr Philip Owusu-Ankomah, the candidate who lost the primaries and they argued that the constituency executive were not supposed to support any of the contestants for the primaries but they openly expressed their support before the primaries.

This came to light at a meeting held by the supporters of Mr. Owusu-Ankomah at Akwatia on Friday but Mr. Owusu-Ankomah himself was not at the meeting

The group had originally decided to hold a demonstration to express their position but on hearing of the intentions of the group, the Kwaebibirem District Chief Executive, Mr. Yaw Yiadom-Boakye, rushed to Akwatia to hold a crisis meeting with the leadership of the group.

Mr Yiadom-Boakye told newsmen at the end of the closed-door meeting that he had impressed upon the group of the need for a united front for the party to win both the parliamentary and presidential elections in the constituency.

When the group leadership met the rank and file, it became evident that whereas they have all decided to vote for the party's Flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, some of the members said they would vote for the independent parliamentary aspirants, Mr Basil Ahiable, or not vote at all in the parliamentary elections.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Edward Apeadu, a former constituency secretary and chairman of the Owusu-Ankomah's campaign team said the way the constituency executives conducted themselves prior to the primaries was a recipe for the party to lose.

He said unless the Regional and National executives intervened within a week, not only would they advise themselves during the elections but they would go ahead with their planned demonstration. The constituency secretary, Mr Joe Danso denied the allegations by the aggrieved group that the whole constituency executive campaigned for Dr. Asare.

He appealed to the group to reconsider their stand since as party members, it would be in their best interest to ensure the victory of the party. May 25, 2008


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kufuor honours Mills

The President, John Agyekum Kufuor, has nominated the Presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Prof. John Evans Atta Mills for the nation's highest honours.

The President will decorate Prof. Mills together with other 157 Ghanaians who have been nominated for national honours as part of celebrations of Republic Day, which falls on July 1 2008. The awards ceremony will take place on July 3 2008.

A statement signed by the President's Press Secretary, Andrew Awuni, announced this on Friday May 23, 2008 in Accra.

Prof. Atta Mills and four other eminent Ghanaians including Vice President Aliu Mahama will receive the highest honour of Order of the Star of Ghana, Companion Division.

Among the list of awardees for the highest honour are the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Nayiri Naa Bohogu Mahami Sheregu, Paramount Chief of Mamprugu, and the Yagbonwura, Bawa Doshie, the Paramount Chief of Gonja Traditional Area.

Prof. Mills served as Vice President of Ghana from 1996 to 2000, and then contested for the presidency on the ticket of the NDC in 2000 but lost to President Kufuor. He again stood for elections to be President in the 2004 general elections and lost again to the incumbent, President J. A. Kufuor.

Prof Atta Mills is a Professor of Law and a tax expert. He taught for many years at the University of Ghana, Legon and also served as head of Ghana's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) before entering politics. At the time when he was nominated to partner former President J. J. Rawlings on the ticket of the NDC in 1996, he was relatively unknown in Ghana's political circles.

Prof. Mills is also a sports enthusiast, with special interest in hockey.

Other categories of the awards are Order of the Volta, Companion Division, 50 awardees. The Order of the Volta, Officer Division, 38, Member, 16 and Grand Medal 49.

Dan Abodakpi released from prison

Mr. Dan Abodakpi, Member of Parliament for Keta and a former Minister of Trade and Industry in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration has been given presidential pardon from prison. The clemency takes immediate effect.

The Member of Parliament for Keta, Dan Abodakpi was serving a 10-year jail term for willfully causing financial loss of $400,000 to the State.

Mr. Abodakpi was sentenced on February 5, 2007 after a trial that began in 2002.

The pardon granted by President J. A. Kufuor, was announced in a statement from the Office of the President, Saturday May 24, 2008 and signed by Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs.

The statement said the President was exercising his constitutional prerogative of mercy in favour of Mr. Abodakpi and the decision was on humanitarian grounds.

The statement said the decision was on humanitarian grounds, to exercise his constitutional prerogative of mercy in favour of Mr Dan Abodakpi, and accordingly the President has granted a pardon by way of remission of the remainder of his sentence.

Mr. Abodakpi was tried and found guilty together with the late Victor Selormey, a Former Deputy Finance Minister on the counts of conspiracy to commit crime; defrauding by false pretences and willfully causing a total loss of ¢2.73 billion to the State.

The fraud was committed when Abodakpi and the late Victor Selormey co-chaired the Trade and Investment Program.

They were said to have caused the transfer of $400,000 during his tenure in office as Minister from a TIP interest account lodged with ECOBANK Ghana Limited into the personal account of the project consultant, Dr. Frederick Boadu.

The amount was in respect of a feasibility study for the establishment of a Science and Technology Community Park/Valley Project which was meant to enhance the export of non-traditional products.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

EC to brief parliament on 2008 elections

The Electoral Commission (EC) is expected before Parliament to brief the House on preparations and preparedness towards to the 2008 general elections in December. Discussions on the need for Parliament to be updated on the EC's programme for the elections came under the spotlight when the House convened on Thursday.

Members said time was running out and the House was still in the dark as to when the EC was going to open the voter's register and make public other programmes lined up for the elections. Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, (NPP-New Juaben North) raised the issue immediately after correction of votes and proceedings saying, leadership had been unable to invite the EC to brief Parliament as promised before the House went on the Easter break.

"EC has a duty to inform the general population about their programmes...what is leadership doing to appraise the House about preparations for the elections...the House needs to be briefed about the governance process," he said

Mr. Owusu-Agyemang said information about the programmes and preparations on the elections were necessary for a credible election. Mr. Freddie Blay, First Deputy Speaker, who was presiding, said the Speaker's Office was yet to receive correspondence on the matter and asked the leadership about the situation.

Both Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Deputy Majority Leader and Mr. Edward Doe-Adjaho, Deputy Minority Leader, said the workload of the House got in the way and therefore the EC could not be programmed to brief the House during the last session. They promised that, as a matter of urgency, the EC would be brought in to inform members about preparations for the elections.

Election 2008: A straight fight between NPP and NDC - Prof. Ayee

Professor Joseph Ayee, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ghana on Thursday said this year's election would not culminate in a run-off as was being predicted, but that it would be "a straight fight between the NPP and the NDC candidates".

"Indeed, the outcome of the elections will go either way depending on their ability to market their manifestoes and programmes to the electorate, addressing pressing economic issues like unemployment, provision of basic services, high utility bills, corruption and dealing with tensions and conflict arising from party primaries and other challenges to internal democratic practices", Prof. Ayee said. Delivering a paper at the second annual colloquium of the Faculty, as part of activities marking the 60th anniversary celebrations of the University of Ghana at Legon near Accra, Prof. Ayee said the election would be an issue of how the two parties marketed themselves. The Faculty has devoted this year's colloquium under the theme: "Elections, Democracy and Development under the Fourth Republic" and was to discuss the elections to address some of the issues and challenges that have been perceived as sources of concern since the 1992 elections.

Prof. Ayee, reviewing what the effect of the election would have on the direction of government and politics, noted that if the New Patriotic Party (NPP) won the election, "There will not be any substantial change in policies and programmes". "It will be business as usual. If there will be changes at all, they may be cosmetic.

"However, an Akufo-Addo government is likely to be compelled to fulfil some of the electoral promises of its predecessor such as job creation, a reduction in the size of government, a reduction in the high cost of living, the provision of affordable housing and the vigorously pursuing a zero tolerance for corruption".

On the contrary, Prof. Ayee said if a National Democratic Congress (NDC) won, it was "likely to result in significant change and direction in the content of some public policies and programmes and the way they are implemented".

He said even though there was nothing new in the campaign vision of the NDC as outlined by Prof. John Mills, "there is the possibility that being a new government in power will put some pressure on it to do things quite differently".

He however, stated that the electorate needed to be "cautiously optimistic" because of the saying; "politicians are the same". Prof. Ayee said the elections would be a test of the "resilience and robustness" of Ghana's democracy, and called on the Electoral Commission and the electorate to ensure that the country passed the test to live up to the accolade "Black Star of Africa", saying, "this is a task that all concerned must try to fulfil at all cost"

"The President is expected to outline a major economic policy today to deal with the escalating food and oil prices. Some have interpreted this as a ploy on the part of the government to buy votes, while others have pointed out that the package is too late in coming. "Whatever is the case, escalating food and oil prices, unemployment and the provision of basic services are crucial and the candidate who has the right strategies should be able to win the elections".

PNC abrogates electoral alliance with CPP

The People's National Convention (PNC) on Thursday formally announced the abrogation of an electoral alliance with the Convention People's Party (CPP) for breach of trust.

Dr Edward N. Mahama, flag bearer of the PNC, said the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party after deliberations on Wednesday resoundingly resolved that the party backed out of the alliance. The CPP last week announced that the two Nkrumaists parties had agreed to fight the 2008 election on a common platform.

It said the CPP presidential candidate, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, would head the ticket with Dr Mahama as the running mate. They would also field common candidates for the parliamentary election based on their strength on the ground.

But many members of the PNC voiced opposition to the agreement saying it should have been submitted to the NEC for ratification before being made public.

Dr Mahama explained that leading members of the CPP failed to adhere to basic ground rules, which required that the announcement of the alliance be made by the Chairmen of both parties through a joint press statement they would both sign.

"I was completely shocked when early in the morning the next day, before I could properly wake up, I heard on the airwaves that PNC had subordinated itself to CPP," an emotional Dr Mahama stated. He said: "This attitude is a clear betrayal of confidence and disrespect for the terms of the pact. And this greatly undermined our ability to convince people to buy into the idea and terms of alliance." Dr Mahama said this was the "orchestration of some over zealous members" of both parties.

He debunked a suggestion from reporters that he was "a political opportunist", saying, "Dr Mahama is a principled man, but the outcome of the May 14 unilateral announcement by CPP officials was a blatant breach of trust and confidence. I cannot trust Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom." The PNC leader claimed the Electoral Commission (EC) cheated him during the 2000 and 2004 elections through acts of omission during the computation of votes.

"The EC Chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan has openly admitted that the PNC presidential candidate was not credited with the actual votes cast in his favour due to operational hiccup.

"Obviously I should have rejected the outcome of the result, an opportunity I believe the other parties would have hailed and used for their personal advantage," Dr Mahama said. Unity talks between the two Nkrumaists parties have collapsed in the past as both parties refused to shed their identity - slogan, logo and leadership positions.

Last week's announcement was hailed as a "breakthrough" as it was seen as a step to strengthen the Nkrumaist front.


High court freezes NDC primaries in Ho Central

A high court at Ho on Monday placed an interim injunction on the holding of the Ho Central constituency primaries of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

This followed an application by Mr William Asorgoe and Mr Yaw Agbeli, Constituency Executives of the party, concerning alleged disqualification of Mr Ben Eleblu who sought to contest the primaries.

In an affidavit, the applicants cited Mr Kofi Attor, Director of International Relations of NDC, Mr Ludwig Hlodze, NDC deputy National Youth Organizer and Mr Asiedu Nketia, NDC General Secretary, as having commented that Mr Eleblu was disqualified following the vetting of him and Captain George Nfodjo (Rtd) the incumbent Member of Parliament.

The applicants said Mr Eleblu's lawyers had written to the flag bearer of the party, Professor John Evans Atta Mills for thorough investigations into the matter before holding the primaries.

The affidavit said while waiting for response from the flag bearer and the National Executive Council of the party, there was information that the NDC was going to conduct the primaries without investigating the matter.

It indicated that Mr Eleblu was a fully paid member of the party contrary to allegations that he was disqualified because he was not a paid up member of the party.

The applicants prayed the court to restrain Mr Nketia, the party's General-Secretary, Mr Winfred Agbemakplido, Ho Central Constituency Chairman and Captain Nfodjo (rtd) from holding the primaries until the matter was thoroughly investigated in the interest of the party.

Source: GNA

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

EC sets out qualification criteria for Election 2008

The Electoral Commission (EC) on Wednesday outlined the qualification for both presidential and parliamentary candidates for Elections 2008, stressing workers of government offices and chiefs were barred by law from contesting while in office. Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, EC Chairman, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra that any member of the security services and Civil Service, who intended to contest the election, must resign before filing nominations.

They include the Police Service, Prison Service, Armed Forces, Judicial Service, Legal Service, Civil Service, Audit Service, Parliamentary Service and Statistical Service. The rest are the Ghana National Fire Service, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, Immigration Service and International Revenue Service.

Other categories of personalities barred from contesting elections in Ghana, he said, were individuals who had been declared bankrupt, diagnosed to be of unsound mind or detained as a criminal or lunatic. Dr Afari-Gyan said the electoral laws also barred people who had been convicted for treason or for any offence involving the security of the state, fraud, dishonesty or moral turpitude.

He reminded aspiring candidates of the constitutional residency clause, which stated that candidates should be resident in the constituency for which he or she was standing for a total period of not less than five out of the 10 years immediately preceding the election, or should hail from the constituency.

Aspiring candidates are also required to have fulfilled all tax obligations or made satisfactory arrangements with the appropriate authorities for payment.

The EC Chairman urged political parties and individuals interested in contesting the elections to go by the laws governing political party activities.

"We will not hesitate to apply the highest sanctions at any point if the laws are violated."

He also reminded the political parties, that presidential nomination papers would be filed at the EC Headquarters, while parliamentary nomination papers would be submitted to the Commission in the districts.

Dr. Afari-Gyan explained that details required for presidential nominations include particulars of two registered voters resident in every district in the country, a statutory declaration and an assets declaration.

Parliamentary candidates present statutory and assets declaration and provide particulars of 20 registered voters resident in their constituencies.

Dr. Afari-Gyan said a nominated candidate may withdraw his or her nomination at any time before 1700 hours on the day of nomination and the candidate must sign the notice to this effect.

Deposits of candidates who obtain 25 per cent of the total valid votes in the presidential election and 12 per cent in the parliamentary would be refunded.

Those who fail to obtain the required percentage would forfeit their deposit to the state, the Commission Chairman said. The EC Chairman said the Commission had accepted the challenge to organize free, fair and transparent elections and also challenged the parties to abide by the tenets of the Political Parties Code of Conduct.

On nomination fees, Dr Afari-Gyan said the Commission was yet to meet the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) to set the fees. During Election 2004, each presidential candidate paid a deposit of 2,000 GH cedis (20 million cedis) while each parliamentary candidate deposited 500 GH cedis (five million cedis).


NPP fundraising goes hi-tech: Party to raise funds with text messages

Peter Mac Manu, NPP Chairman

The New Patriotic Party has injected fresh impetus into the political landscape of the country with the introduction of an innovative text messaging system of fundraising.

The move is one of several modern campaign strategies to be unleashed into the political dispensation of this country geared towards ensuring the election of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as Ghana's next leader.

The novel fundraising plan, conceived by the Fundraising Committee of the NPP's Election 2008 team, is to give every supporter of the party, an opportunity to identify and share the goals, aspirations and eventual victory of the NPP in the December polls.

Explaining the modalities, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, MP for New Juaben South and Chairman of the Fundraising Committee, said the programme works by simply texting NPP to mobile networks Onetouch or Kasapa.

"With each text message costing GH¢ 1, the more texts you send to NPP using the short code 1NPP or 1677, the more you consolidate your party's march to victory in the general elections thus ensuring a prosperous Ghana," he emphasised.

He also disclosed that since 2002 the party has the enjoyed goodwill and support of party members through direct contributions and donations in cash and kind which has kept the internal structures of the Danquah- Busia tradition resilient.

The introduction of the NPP/ Nana Akufo-Addo SMS Text and Support Programme is an important part of the party's fundraising effort, he told the audience at the Party's national headquarters yesterday. "This is the first of many programmes aimed at fundraising and getting every Ghanaian to buy into our vision," he added.

On his part, the NPP Presidential Candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo reaffirmed his belief in the benefits of science and technology in the quest to develop Ghana, citing the use of the existing technology to solve such a crucial need as fund raising in political campaigns.

Quoting some statistics to back up his assertion, the Abuakwa South MP explained that about 50% of the populace use mobile phones, and since the NPP had about 4 million votes in the 2004 polls, text contributions from just half of the number will fetch about GH¢2 million, which will be a huge boost to the campaign in this year's elections.

The flagbearer noted that the programme would not only generate funds for the party but will also allow everyone everywhere to own part of the NPP campaign.

He charged the media to continue setting the agenda by putting the issues forward for national discourse.

He also called on Ghanaians to continue believing in Ghana and work hard to make the nation an exemplary modern democracy.

Speaking exclusively to The Statesman, NPP National Chairman Peter Mc Manu said, due to the steady growth of the party, its activities are being emulated by many parties which share in the ideology of the Centre Right.

He said the party's preparation and strategic direction give the hope that Nana Akufo-Addo will be elected the next President of Ghana, taking over from John Agyekum Kufuor.

credit :

Monday, May 19, 2008

Police to quiz Ketu North MP over "wild allegations"

The Volta Regional Police Command says it will soon send a notice to the Speaker of Parliament to request the release of the MP for Ketu, Hon North James Klutse Avedzi, to assist in investigations over allegations of a plot to cause mayhem in the constituency in the December elections.

Speaking at the NDC's Tertiary Education Institution Network in Ho at the weekend, Mr Avedzi alleged that government had made arms available to some 'special forces' to shoot indiscriminately to scare people off from voting.

But the region's police commander said the MP had failed to bring the matter to his attention despite a meeting with him at the weekend to discuss bail for a criminal suspect in custody.

DCOP Derry in an interview with Joy News said the claims by the MP were too serious to leave uninvestigated.

"It looks as if he is interested in making wild allegations against people…it is a very wild allegation and people shouldn't hide behind the offices they hold to make such statements against authorities " DCOP Derry stated.

He said the MP would be invited to "state the source of the allegation and evidence that government has acquired arms for people to be shooting here and there."

Meanwhile, Hon James Klutse Avedzi in a separate interview with Joy News said he had been reluctant to release information to the police because the service in the district had been implicated in the matter, adding, he would rather take the matter up elsewhere.

"They are the same people involved in the matter, so why do I report it to them?" Mr Avedzi asked rather rhetorically.

Though he would not mention specific individuals behind the training of the alleged special forces, the MP said the he was sure there was a programme of such nature being undertaken to wreck an "electoral havoc" on his constituency.

Atta Mills ends first phase of Western Region tour

Professor John Evans Atta Mills Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has reassured Ghanaians of open, honest and transparent government, if elected into power.

Speaking with various opinion and community leaders during the first phase of his your of the Western Region, Professor Atta Mills pledged investment in people, job creation, strong economy and infrastructure expansion as the cornerstones of his administration.

A statement released in Accra on Sunday by Mr. Koku Anyidoho, Head, Communications, said during the tour the NDC Leader, concentrated his campaign in the northern sector of the Western Region. Prof. Atta Mills visited, Bibiani, Sefwi Anhwiaso, Sefwi Awasu, Sefwi Bekwai, Sefwi Wiawso, Sefwi Buako, Sefwi Asawinso, Sefwi Debiso, and Sefwi Essem.

He also visited, Juabeso, Bodi, Nsawura, Akontonbra, Kalo, Dadieso, Enchi and Asankragua.

Prof. Atta Mills interacted with, traditional rulers, religious leaders, farmers, traders, butchers, drivers, teachers, students, nurses, and lots of unemployed youth and rolled out his vision for 'A Better Ghana'.

He was accompanied by Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary, Mrs. Ama Benyiwa Doe, National Women's Organiser, Mr. Yaw Boateng Gyan, Deputy National Organiser, Dr. Frank Abu, Western Regional Chairman, Col. Kaku Korsah (Rtd), Western Regional Organiser, Mr. Ato Awhoi, as well as other Western Regional Executives.

The next phase of Prof. Atta Mills' tour of the Western Region will include towns along the coastal belt such as Evalue Gwira, Jomoro and Ellembele, as well as Tarkwa, Prestea, and Wassa areas.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Will prisoners vote?

Fourteen thousand prisoners stand to be disenfranchised in the December elections if the Electoral Commission (EC) does not activate their right to vote.

Separate interviews conducted with the Minister of State at the Ministry of the Interior, Nana Obiri Boahen, and the Executive Director of the Justice and Human Rights Institute, Prof. Kenneth Attafuah, point to the fact that the onus is on the EC to activate the provision in the Constitution for prisoners to vote.

At a colloquium organised by the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) on Monday, the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, had asked for assurances of safety for the staff of the EC and clear expressions by the courts on the constitutional provisions if polling booths were set up in prisons.

Article 42 of the Constitution provides that "every citizen of Ghana of 18 years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda".

The Constitution, by this provision and several others, does not limit the right to vote to only people outside the prisons. However, prisoners in Ghana have never exercised this right.

Extending the constitutional right to vote to citizens who have fallen foul of the law has recently become an issue of debate.

Nana Boahen noted that no law in the country barred prisoners from voting.

"Even if there was any such law that would be against the fundamental rights of people" he added.

He was of the view that the EC had not taken up the responsibility to ensure the enjoyment of that right by prisoners by putting in place the right administrative systems and measures.

"If the EC cannot create a polling station for them, it can have them vote by proxy" he said.

Dr Afari-Gyan said although it was not the commission's intention to disenfranchise anyone, it did nut by convention, set up polling stations in certain places like the prisons.

His main concerns were the safety of the staff of the EC and clarity on the legal provisions for prisoners to vote.

On those issues Nana Boahen said if the EC had any concerns over the safety of its staff extending the right to vote to prisons then the EC should write to the ministry and it would be considered.

He said the mere fact that someone had been tried before a court and convicted did not prevent him or her from voting.

In the same vein, Nana Boahen said it was also wrong for the EC not to implement the Representation of the People's (Amendment) Law (ROPAL) when it had been assented to by the President and was now in operation.

"The EC says it has logistical constraints in implementing the law, but the unavailability of logistics does not mean the postponement of one's legal right," he pointed out.

Prof. Attafuah was of the opinion that the EC needed to take practical steps to facilitate the enjoyment of the right to vote by prisoners.

"The enjoyment of this right has to be activated by the EC because
prisoners do not have the mobility to cast their votes," he said.

He added that Article 17 of the Constitution said all persons should be treated equal, despite their social status, while Article 33 (6) did not limit the enjoyment of rights to only those expressed in the Constitution.

He said all those constitutional provisions had to be read together as they were all indicative of the fundamental nature of he right to vote.

"This issue does not require a constitutional interpretation.

The right to vote is a fundamental, inviolable right and a serious constitutional matter that ought to be regarded with the same level of seriousness. Every law of the land is subservient o the Constitution," he said.

Prof. Attafuah said he believed that the EC did not need to be concerned with the safety of its staff if voting was to be conducted in prisons.

"The prisons are well equipped for the safe conduct of an election. O
ther people such as nurses, doctors and pastors enter the prisons on a daily basis," he said.

He advised that the right to vote had to be started by an extensive educational campaign by the EC, in collaboration with civil society organisations, for the prisoners.

Prof. Attafuah was also of the view that civil and political rights were the most inexpensive rights in all jurisdictions to enjoy.

Source: Daily Graphic

Friday, May 9, 2008


Mawuli Dake

Mawuli Dake looks at the ways in which women are being locked out of the democratic processes in Ghana and argues that societies "cannot claim to be committed to the principles and ideals of democracy and the universal values of equality" if groups within are marginalized.

This year, over ten million eligible Ghanaian voters will again exercise the power to choose a President and 230 members of Parliament. This election is extremely important in many regards. The electioneering process and its outcome will determine whether we will as a nation continue or disrupt our forward march for democracy, especially in light of what we have witnessed in Nigeria and Kenya. It also presents the unique once in four years opportunity for citizens to hold Ghanaian politicians accountable for their actions vis-à-vis their rhetoric and promises. When all is said and done, the elections and the subsequent appointment of Ministers and District Chief Executives will determine our political platform and direction for the next four years, and the interests that are represented over the period. In this light, it matters who participates in this process.

For many citizens, the single most important opportunity they have to meaningfully participate in the democratic process is voting. It is also the primary means for Ghanaians, especially the poor, women and other disadvantaged groups of society, to participate in and influence government policy, priorities and practice. This article highlights how the choices we have in the 2008 elections significantly exclude citizenry majorities like women, and what we can and must do about it. It is needleless to emphasize that one of the most fundamental principles of democracy is equity: Even if not equal, fair and reasonable participation and representation of all. This of course is recognized not only in many international and regional instruments like African Union and United Nations declarations, conventions and protocols, but also clearly recognized in our own laws. In this spirit, I hope everyone will concur, that the current situation, given the appalling female to male ratio at local, regional and national levels of political leadership, is neither fair nor equitable by any standard, and definitely not democratic.

It is intriguing how our democratic institutions and processes have been able to craftily and systemically exclude "majorities". As Ghanaians go to the polls in December, a majority of the electorate will be choosing from candidates who have little in common with them. Like in previous years, Ghanaian women will not see the face of any "sista" among the Presidential candidates on the ballots. Neither will the poor have anyone who identifies with their situation on those ballots. Additionally there will be fewer women to choose from among the parliamentary candidates to represent the people. Every time I think about it I wonder why despite there being more women than men in Ghana, they have never had anything close to majority in political leadership.

An electioneering period however is a fine opportunity for us to make the necessary changes that will strengthen our democratic as well as developmental processes. It is in light of this that I hope that we will reflect and strategize to improve the situation.

It is bad enough that none of our political parties have considered a woman as their presidential candidate in the coming election, but I hope no party will participate in the election this December without selecting a woman as their vice President. Women in Ghana have demonstrated that they are more than qualified for the job. There are many Ghanaian women (like Betty Mould Iddrisu) that are as visionary and as charismatic (if not more) as any other political leader we have had since Kwame Nkrumah. I have encountered many women (like the late Hawa Yakubu) who are powerful and strong. And of course, many (like Joyce Aryee), who are as experienced and able like any man we can find for the job.


Ghana is not alone in the marginalization of women in the political processes. The Millennium Declaration emphasizes the importance of democratic governance to the achievement of development and just peace, placing particular stress on the importance of ensuring more inclusive political processes that allow genuine participation by all citizens. The Beijing Platform for Action also emphasizes that "women's equal participation in decision making is not only a demand for justice or democracy, but can also be seen as a necessary condition for women's interests to be taken into account..." The Platform accordingly proposed two important strategies to: "ensure women's equal access to and full participation in all power structures and decision making"; and "increase women's capacity to participate in decision making and leadership".

Some countries, before and after Beijing have elected women to their highest office. Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister of Great Britain three times. Other countries that have elected women presidents include Liberia, Argentina, Iceland, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Finland, Ireland and Chile.

Nevertheless, there rages a global debate, over women's political participation and representation. This ongoing discourse includes extensive studies and analysis in support of varied theories and approaches that comprise intrinsic and instrumentalist arguments. Some argue for equal participation of women in politics from the human rights perspective, that women constitute half of the world population and therefore, they should have equal (proportional) representation in our democracies. Instrumentalists on the other hand argue for greater participation of women on the grounds that men and women are different, that women have different approaches, vision and concepts of politics owning to their sex and their gender roles, with the assumption that women will bring a special "women values" to politics. Even without reaching an intellectual consensus on the merits and demerits of various arguments, I believe proponents of varied arguments and theories will agree on this one thing, women must be included in politics at all levels (from the high office of President to the local government assemblies).

In Ghana, gender barriers are not taken as seriously as other social ones like religion and ethnicity. The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe, because some still fall prey to the stereotype that it is not a women's place to be the Leader of the country; because a few old men have been allowed to dominate the process for so long that society thinks it is their right to do so and exclude everyone else; because of entrenched structural and functional socio-political factors that perpetuate the exclusion of women; and because sometimes women simply choose not to fight for it.

All of this can change. One of my most important observations, as a Campaign Strategist for a black presidential candidate here in the United States, is that people are far less prejudiced than we think they are, irrespective of race and equally irrespective of gender. This is not to deny the existence of prejudice, but contrarily to popular assumption, I have not encountered anyone, regardless of race or gender who are against having a black or woman president respectively. No doubt there are men and women in Ghana today who may be against the idea of a woman President, but they are a tiny minority. On one of my recent visits home, I listened to a phone-in program on Joy FM discussing if and which Ghanaian women could be President, the phone lines were jammed with men and women, who did not only think that Ghana was ready for a woman President, but who readily suggested or endorsed capable women for the job. From my recollection, some of the women highly recommended for the job were Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Emma Mitchel, Joyce Aryee and the late Hawa Yakubu.


After emerging from colonialism some 50-plus years ago, Ghana went through an unprecedented history of military coups, counter coups and attempted coups. Ghanaians however resolved to return to constitutional democracy through the April 28 1992 referendum, followed by subsequent elections including the first and historic democratic change of government effected by a general, free and fair election in 2001, a democracy we have continued to enjoy uninterrupted since then. These achievements are great steps in our forward march for democracy, nevertheless, there still remain serious challenges to this process. Like in too many other countries in the world, the limited and unequal representation of women in political leadership remains one of those challenges, but there also exists opportunities that we can exploit.

A 2003 WISE study by Dake & Herlands: Data on Women in Leadership in Ghana, highlighted that in general, women exercise little power in political, economic, and social institutions in Ghana. It particularly highlighted that women are woefully underrepresented in political leadership positions relative to their participation at the middle and bottom levels in society. Even though anecdotal evidence indicates gross inequity in representation of women in leadership positions, the statistics of the survey are shocking.

There have been some significant changes since this survey was conducted in 2003 including the appointment of a woman as one of the five Chief Officers of the State (the appointment of Ghana's current Chief Justice Ms. Georgina T. Wood). There is also a less than 2% increase in the number of women in parliament to about 11% compared to 9% in the last house. Nevertheless, these statistics remain a fair, quantitative reflection of the inequity in Ghana's political leadership.

These changes have occurred largely due to the tireless efforts of women's rights advocates and women's organizations. Abantu for Development and the Women's Manifesto Coalition for instance, have not only been aggressively pushing for women's involvement, but have been empowering women to get involved in politics at various levels. I am particularly impressed with the strategic approach to increasing women's representation in local governments. I recently joined one such effort to provide campaign strategy training to women candidates who were vying for seats in the local government elections for the Northern regions of Ghana and was inspired to learn that some of these women now serve in their local assemblies. This shows that things can and do change.


The women' manifesto of Ghana is a political document that sets out critical issues of concern to Ghanaian women with clear demands for addressing them. The manifesto covers areas such as Women in Politics, Decision making and Public Life, Women's Economic Empowerment and Women, Human Rights and the Law among others, clearly laying out the issues and demands that can guide government's efforts. The manifesto states "In spite of the pivotal role Ghanaian women play … they do not occupy key decision-making positions in any of the sectors of economic, political and social life. They are relegated to the background as far as public decision-making is concerned. This is because no concrete policy measures are in place to ensure that the structural inequalities between women and men are taken into account in promoting participation in policy decisions."

The document outlines some concrete action demands to address this. Two of these are: "That political parties ensure that by the year 2008, there is at least 50% representation of women in party executive and other decision-making structures" and "That by the year 2008 at least 50% of appointees to public offices, such as boards of corporations and institutions and the higher echelons of the bureaucracies, are women".


One of the best things about elections and change of governments is the opportunity it presents to citizens to get involved in processes that affect them and the opportunity it offers for change or for correcting wrongs. 2008 particularly gives Ghanaians an unprecedented opportunity to chose not only between NPP and NDC (both of which they have tried and tested), but if they so wish, opt for a third option- CPP. Exciting!


As we approach December and the elections, I invite political parties, government, the media and civil society as a whole to consider and take some of the following steps to promote the greater participation of women.

It should begin with ensuring that all the political parties choose woman vice-presidential candidates. This demand is not only for democracy sake, but also for respect and recognition of the capabilities, dignity and rights of Ghanaian women. Additionally, we will be honoring our commitments and obligations as a country under international instruments to promote gender equity, Not to mention the strategic goodwill that such step could generate for our country internationally as we have witnessed on Liberia and in Nigeria (when a woman served as the country's Finance Minister).

It must be noted that that it is ultimately the responsibility of government to spearhead efforts to ensure equal representation. The role of civil society is to compliment this effort. We must however be quick to recognize from the history of such struggles that, change hardly occurs without a strong demand and fight, be it for the right to vote, for independence or other basic rights. Frederick Douglas puts it in the best possible way "…power concedes nothing without demand, it never has and it never will."

Political parties must show greater commitment to the issue of gender equity by deliberately supporting and increasing the number of female candidates especially for the parliamentary elections; ensuring that women play more visible official roles as well as increasing women's representation on committees and in other official party structures. Finally, they must ensure speakers who address all political rallies and platforms include women.

The media remains the most visible platform for highlighting political issues. And I want to urge the Ghanaian media to continue to highlight and make women more visible in this year's elections. Photos from the grassroots should not only show women laying their cloths down for the men to walk over. Their struggles, their views and efforts must be highlighted.

Imperatively, advocates of gender equality in Ghana will need to be aggressive, strategic and unequivocal in their demands on government and the political parties to do the right thing, while at the same time providing the necessary moral, technical and resource support for women candidates. The movement must strategically sustain the momentum generated from the election processes to ensure that the pressure is brought to bear on post-election appointments. Being mindful of the practical realities that the change we seek will not happen in one election, but will require long term commitment and struggle, we should continue to call upon all Ghanaians of good will to voice and provide their strongest support for women candidates.

We can start with some of these simple steps above. For example, while we could argue that it will be laborious to legislatively award quotas for equal representation, nothing can prevent the President from ensuring gender balance in his appointments. And some unacceptable acts like the President handpicking 103 men against a woeful 6 women as DCE revealed in the 2003 survey should not be tolerated by anyone. Let's start from doing the simple things and we will get there.

In conclusion, I want to state that we as a people cannot claim to be committed to the principles and ideals of democracy and the universal values of equality, but deny any groups equal opportunities for involvement. The continuous limited participation of women in our political process is detrimental to the progress of Ghana. For some, it may be too difficult an issue to tackle, yet difficulties must be overcome and not swept under the carpet. There is no question that the full and active participation of women in leadership is a pre-requisite for positive change and development in Ghana and in Africa.

*Mawuli Dake is an African human rights and social justice advocate, strategist and consultant. He currently serves as a Campaign Strategist for a US presidential candidate.
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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Atta Mills promises to reunite Ghanaians

Prof John Evans Atta Mills, Flag Bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), for Elections 2008 on Wednesday said the task of the Party would be to improve the economy, refresh the national spirit and reunite the people of Ghana.

Prof. Mills promised Ghanaians that politics of polarization would have no place in the country and he would be a President of the whole country, devoid of marginalization if given the nod in the forthcoming elections.

"I am here to reassure Ghanaians, who are tired of politics as usual, that we are committed to a new type of politics which will foster national unity and a new sense of purpose." Prof Mills gave the assurance at the launch of the national campaign of the NDC, which was also used to introduce his running mate, Mr John Dramani Mahama.

Prof. Mills accused the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of using its political power as hammer to nail the people in other political parties.

The Flag Bearer told the enthusiastic crowd that welcomed him to the National Theatre in Accra at 1454 hours with a chorus of "Atta Mills, You Are the Most High!" that the agenda of the NDC was for a better Ghana, investing in people, job creation and strong economy, expanding infrastructure and an open and transparent government. "Our manifesto, which we will soon outdoor, will offer more specifics and Ghanaians will see for themselves how prepared the NDC is to assume the mantle of leadership to serve this country," the NDC Flag Bearer said.

He promised to use the weapon of truth to respond to the challenges of leading the nation, adding; "I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. And I will not regard my election as President as some kind of coronation".

Prof Mills accused the NPP government of breaking the promise of providing jobs, reduction in the size of Government; reducing the cost of living and pursuing a zero tolerance for corruption, but rather engaging in what he called "profligate expenditure on presidential aircraft; palaces and lavish anniversary celebrations".

Placing value on truth, and appropriate sanctions on errant political behaviour, the NDC Flag Bearer said genuine and public demonstration of the trustworthiness of leaders should define Ghana's leadership in 2009 and beyond. "And should any member of the Atta Mills' Government act in ways contrary to our national purpose and character, rest assured that Atta Mills will be swift in acting." "I will not govern according to my desires; I will govern according to the will of the people. I make a pledge to engage with opposing points of view."

Prof Mills, who is a Former Vice President of Ghana from 1996 to 2000, expressed worry about Ghana's sunken image as major drug trafficking country, and promised to redeem that image and save the Ghanaian public from the "the scourge of crime and armed robbery. The NDC Flag Bearer, an accomplished university don; tax expert; lawyer and sportsman, paid tribute to the founding fathers; the National Executives, and foot-soldiers of the Party and expressed conviction that it would be victorious in the December elections.

Prof Mills urged Ghanaians to hold the Electoral Commission to the same standards they held it in the run-up to Election 2000. "We only ask the Electoral Commission to do its duty impartially and not to succumb to any subtle pressures.

"The NDC is wide awake, and we will open our eyes much wider in the coming days and weeks especially when the voters register is re-opened and on the voting day itself.

"Let the ruling party be in no doubt of the NDC's strong determination to prevent a repeat of electoral abuses, including abuse of incumbency, which characterized the 2004 elections," Prof Mills said. Prof Mills again expressed confidence in Mr Mahama, MP for Bole Bamboi as his running mate, declaring; "I have a Running Mate, John Mahama, in whom I am well pleased."


Profile: John Dramani Mahama

Mr. John Dramani Mahama, Running mate to Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Flag bearer of National Democratic Congress (NDC) was born 49 years ago. He is married to Lordina and has seven children.
Mr. Mahama started school at the Achimota Primary School and went on to secondary school at the Ghana Secondary School in Tamale. He proceeded thereafter to the University of Ghana, Legon, where he obtained a BA degree in History in 1981.
In 1986, he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. He also undertook further Postgraduate Studies in Social Psychology at the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow in 1988. Mr. Mahama was employed as Information Officer at the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Ghana from 1991 to 1995. He moved on to join the non-governmental organization, Plan International, as Sponsorship and Grants Manager in the Ghana Country Office from 1995 to 1996. He was elected to his first term as Member of Parliament (MP) for the Bole-Bamboi Constituency on the ticket of the NDC in December 1996. Mr. Mahama served as Deputy Minister of Communications from April 1997 to November 1998 and then served as the substantive Minister of Communications from November 1998 to January 2001. He acted as Chairman of the National Communications Authority, the regulatory agency for the telecommunications and Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector from November 1998 to January 2001.
Mr. Mahama was re-elected MP for Bole-Bamboi Constituency in December 2000 and again won re-election to a third term in December 2004. He was Spokesman on Communications for the Minority in Parliament between 2001 and 2004.
From 2005 to date Mr. Mahama has been Minority Spokesman for Foreign Affairs. He has, from 1997 to date, also been a member of the following committees of Parliament - Appointments Committee, Communications Committee and the Standing Orders Committee of Parliament.
He has been a Member of the Pan African Parliament based in Pretoria, South Africa from 2004 to date and is the Chairman of the West African Caucus in the Pan African Parliament. Mr. Mahama is a member of the Transport, Industry, Energy, Communications, Science and Technology Committee of the Pan African Parliament as well as a member of the European and Pan African Parliaments' Ad-hoc Committee on Co-operation. He has been Director of Communications for the NDC from 2002 to date and a member of the election observer and monitoring team for the Zimbabwe Presidential elections in 2002.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dr. Mahama: I was not given all the votes I got

Dr. Edward Nasigri Mahama, presidential candidate of the Peoples National Convention (PNC) says, the Electoral Commission (EC) did not give him all the votes he got at previous elections the country held.

He said, even though, he knew that he got more votes than what the EC declared for him, he did not protest because he did not want to throw the country into chaos.

"I preferred to accept the results because I didn't want to throw the Ghana into confusion." He said. According to the medical doctor politician, he could have joined forces with the other losing political parties to reject the results and this country could have been in turmoil.

Dr. Mahama was speaking on Citi FM's Breakfast Show Monday May 5, 2008.

Commenting on sectionalism, he said, tribalism was buried under the 1st Republic when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah ruled the country, but according to him, recently, under the NPP administration, tribalism has resurfaced.

He supported his view by saying he recently read about complaints on the issue by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in the newspapers.

"Even the Asantehene complained about tribalism, I read about it in one of the dailies, unless, he was probably misrepresented." He said.

Dr. Mahama said he is into politics to look at the common good.

The PNC presidential candidate also says he considers both his medical profession and his role in politics as his calling.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

EC Chairman urges Media to publicize elections issues

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission has appealed to media organizations to consider undertaking public education on election issues as part of their corporate social responsibility policy.

He said in as much as media organizations have to make some money, they were bound by their service ethics to actively promote the good of society without prompting.

Dr Afari-Gyan was addressing the Volta Regional Inter-Party Advisory Committee forum on building stakeholders' confidence in the outcome of the 2008 Elections in Ho on Friday. He said the current practice in which media organizations demanded payment for every bit of service regarding publicity for the election processes was not good for society. "Elections are so important. They affect out very lives and none has to tell you of the public service duty that you have," Dr Afari-Gyan stressed.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and KAB Governance Consult, a Ghanaian NGO in good governance advocacy, organized the forum in collaboration with the EC.

About 40 representatives of political parties and media organizations attended the forum, which discussed the inbuilt integrity of Ghana's electoral process and results, as well as challenges of the replacement of lost ID cards in the Volta Region, expectations and challenges of the forthcoming voter's registration exercise and the role of political parties in achieving credible elections. Ms Laurentia Kpatakpa, Volta Regional Director of the EC, said 29,734 had filed for the replacement of their lost or defaced ID cards. She said the use of mobile teams with a publicized schedule visits, minimized problems of access and promised that the same system would be used, if need be, cover all areas during the coming limited opening of the electoral register. 03 May 08

Friday, May 2, 2008

We'll meet EC's request for additional resources - Prez

The government is ready to meet every request by the Electoral Commission (EC) for additional resources for the successful execution of the December 2008 general election, President J. A. Kufuor has assured the nation.

The President's assurance comes on the heels of the disclosure by the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, that the commission had budgeted for GH¢41 million for this year's general election.

At a special regional Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) forum in Takoradi, Dr Mari-Gyan had said the EC would require an additional GH¢7 million should there be a run-off.

Addressing this year's May Day celebration at the Independence Square in Accra yesterday, President Kufuor said already the request submitted by the EC through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning had been fully met.

The theme for the celebration, which was attended by a large number of workers, was, "Deepening Democracy in Ghana: The Role of Organised Labour".

The workers, some of whom carried placards, had gone on a route march from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to the Independence Square to listen to anniversary speeches and take part in an awards presentation ceremony.

The parade was attended by the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, as well as some leaders of political parties, including Professor John Evans Atta Mills, the former Vice-President and flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and Dr Paa. Kwesi Nduom, the flag bearer of the Convention People's Party (CPP).

President Kufuor said the responsibility for running credible elections was beyond the EC and embraced all Ghanaians.

"We, therefore, should be able to desist from making pronouncements which give rise to undue scepticism and work together with the commission to ensure transparency, fairness and peace," he said.

"Any misunderstanding arising from the elections should be subjected to due process," he added.

The President reiterated the government's support for the December 2008 elections, saying, "The government will do nothing against the law."

"Ghana is considered a beacon of democracy. Therefore, we should all commit, through our conduct, to validate this positive assessment," he stated.

President Kufuor advised political parties to see themselves as part of the constitutional organs for running elections and, therefore, behave according to the letter and spirit of the Constitution to assist the process.

He said all organs, such as the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), had a stake in the elections and should play their roles impartially.

On the food situation, the President said the government was making arrangements to stock grains to ensure food security in the short term, at least for the rest of the year, in view of rising food prices on the world market.

President Kufuor said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had been directed to ensure proper marketing and sale of agricultural produce so that no region would experience food shortage.

With regard to pay reforms, the President said a team of consultants and technical experts had been engaged to work on a single spine pay structure which would become the public pay policy in due course and asked worker to exercise restraint, since the exercise should be done well to avoid creating difficulties in future.

President Kufuor was later honoured by the TUC for his commitment to and support for the movement towards May Day celebrations since assuming office.

Source: Daily Graphic

Alan Kyerematen back to NPP

Mr. Alan Kyerematen, former aspiring flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Thursday rescinded his decision to resign from the party.

A statement signed by Mr. Kyerematen and issued in Accra said: "I acknowledge receipt with thanks, your letter dated April 25, 2008, on the above subject.

"Following your appeal to me to reconsider my decision to resign from the Party, and with the personal assurances you have given in your letter to address in a timely manner, the concerns I have raised on various matters and also in consideration of the passionate appeal from His Excellency the President, the flag bearer, the elders, as well as the rank and file of the party, I write to rescind my earlier decision to resign my membership of the NPP.

"I hope this decision will contribute to the further strengthening of the party".