Sunday, August 31, 2008

Trouble brews at CPP Ellembele

Constituency Executives of the Convention People's Party (CPP) at Ellembele are up against the national executives of the party for wrongfully nullifying the re-election of their Member of Parliament, Mr. Freddie Blay.

The party hierarchy has therefore been given a 24-hour ultimatum to rescind its decision.

On Thursday evening, the Central Committee of the CPP nullified the parliamentary primary in the Ellembele constituency which elected Freddy Blay on 23rd August 2008.

The decision, which sparked controversy among party loyalists in the constituency, has since come under intense criticism.

Kwame Apreh, Education Secretary of the Constituency, told Joy News that the constituency would still regard Freddie Blay as its parliamentary candidate, and described the Central Committee's declaration as "vague and outmoded at best".

He alleged: "We have been aware of clandestine moves that the General Secretary and others have been making to ostensibly oust Freddie Blay as our MP."

He was not amused about the committee's conclusion; a move he alleged was part of a larger conspiracy by certain members of the party "to achieve their evil intention".

Mr. Freddie Blay, who is also the First Speaker of Parliament, was reported to have declared support for the presidential candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party, because he was convinced his party could not win the presidential election and urged it to focus on winning more parliamentary seats.

The decision was taken in his absence when he was attending a national assignment in South Africa.

In a telephone interview on News File, Joy FM's news analysis programme on Saturday, Mr. Blay denied the allegations and said he would confront the party's Central Committee to purge himself of any wrong doing.


185,400 register with EC in Western Region


One hundred and eighty-five thousand four hundred (185,400) persons, were registered in the just-ended voter registration exercise in the Western region. Mr Steve Opoku-Mensah, Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), who told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Sekondi, on Monday said the EC, however, completed 126,499 of the voters and while 58,901 were yet to be completed.

He said the shortage of "scannable forms" and other electoral materials accounted for the uncompleted figure. The EC official said most of the materials were imported and the sudden increased in turn-outs at the various centres made it impossible for the EC to import supplementary ones due to the limited time at its disposal.

Mr Opoku-Mensah assured that as soon as the additional materials arrived, all the uncompleted forms would be worked on. He noted that Wassa West with its 54 electoral areas recorded the highest of 26,399, while Shama recorded the lowest of 6,797.

Wassa Amenfi, Mr Opoku-Mensah said, also recorded 15,611 while the Nzema East also recorded 13,407. He said Takoradi, Effia and Sekondi Sub-Metros recorded a total of 27,660.


CPP nullifies re-election of Freddie Blay

The Central Committee of the Convention People's Party (CPP) on Friday nullified the re-election of Mr. Freddie Blay as aspiring parliamentary candidate of the party for the December polls.

In statement signed by Mr. Ivan Kobina Greenstreet, CPP General Secretary, to the Ghana News Agency after about five hours of deliberation of the Central Committee, the CPP said, in accordance with Article 48 of the party's Constitution, the Ellembele Constituency primary is nullified.

Mr Blay was re-elected at the weekend for the fourth time running at a constituency delegates' meeting at Essiama where he polled 75 of the 79 votes to win the right to represent CPP in December's parliamentary election.

The Central Committee advised the regional and constituency executives to adhere to the directive. The committee would institute the necessary mechanism for the holding of legitimate primaries in the constituency.

According to the CPP, Mr Blay, on three different occasions failed to appear before the party's Disciplinary Committee to explain his presence and pronouncements at a New Patriotic Party (NPP) rally on April 30 contrary to the party's position.

Article 77 of CPP's constitution states that a member of the party shall be guilty of a breach of the party's disciplinary code if he or she acted as a candidate or supported such a candidate in opposition to the official party candidate at a presidential or parliamentary election.

The Article also states that the member would also be guilty if he/she did any act of commission or omission which is prejudicial to the good standing of the party or tends to bring the CPP into disrepute. The CPP said it gave Mr Blay the last opportunity to appear on Thursday August 28, which he again failed to attend, hence the decision to nullify his re-election, which was in contravention of directive to the constituency to suspend the holding of a primary until the final determination of the allegation.

The disciplinary committee said after analysis of a report submitted to it by the Central Committee of the party on the conduct of Mr. Blay at the NPP rally held at Aiyinase in the Ellembelle Constituency on April 30, this year, it found it expedient to question the MP's conduct.

Ghana Election As Regional Democratic Test

By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong

Ghana's upcoming Election 2008 in December is a test for the West African region as it struggles for democratic consolidation.

Seen as the sub-region's democracy star, Ghana's December election is a trial for a region in which stability is still suspect as last month's military coup in Mauritania and the coup attempt in Guinea Bissau reveal.

Despite the fully-steamed democratic activities in Ghana, the latest United Nations assessments of the health of Sierra Leone and Liberia say democracy is shaky not only in these two countries but in a sub-region that is hungry for democracy and stability for progress.

West Africa has a stake in Ghana's elections not only as a tranquilizer in an edgy sub-region but to radiate as the region's oasis of democratic phoenix from the ashes of foreign ideological battles, civil wars, dark spiritual practices, frightening one-party regimes and senseless military juntas. Successful elections will therefore send positive democratic signals to the rest of West Africa.

When the ruling New Patriotic Party's presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, a former Foreign Minister, toured the West African region after he was elected as his party's presidential candidate last December, it was to touch base and say that democracy is possible in the sub-region.

Military rule

With most of her 51 years existence ruled by military and autocratic one-party regimes (the only exception where there was civilian administrations are the years 1957-1966, 1969-72, 1979-81, and 1993 to present), Ghanaians have come to the conclusion that democracy is better than the imperially threatening 6-year one-party systems and the 21-year-old mindless military juntas that dominated their hot political landscape and effectively stifled genuine development discourse.

Like the rest of West Africa, the on-going 16-year-old Ghanaian democratic dispensation has not come about easily. Straddling and breathing over the on-going democracy had been the Gen. Joseph Ankrah military regime (that overthrew the President Nkrumah administration in 1966.

The coup was actually done by Generals Emmanual Kotoka and Akwesi Amankwah Afrifa and Gen. Ankrah picked as head of state) to Gen. Akwesi Afrifa's military junta (that toppled the Ankrah regime in 1969) to Gen. Kutu Acheampong's military regime (which overthrew the Prime Minister Dr. Kofi Busia/President Edward Akuffo-Addo administration in 1972) to Gen. F.W.K Akuffo's military junta (that overthrew the Acheampong regime 1978) to the long-running Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings military regimes (that overthrew the Akuffo and Dr. Hilla Liman regimes in 1979 and 1981 respectively).

Black Star of Africa

In some sort of weird metaphysics such depressing coup-infested attitude was copied by other West Africa states. The Jerry Rawlings coups, despite their senselessness inspired coup making in other West African states such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, and eventually sent these two countries into explosion. By the same token Ghana democratic growth will be copied by other West African states.

The reason is that ever since its birth some 51 years ago, Ghana, under its first president, Kwame Nkrumah, has prided and projected itself as the "Black Star of Africa," radiating ideals and hope, foretelling the "African Personality." The December elections will be the fifth multi-party polls in Ghana since it embarked on its present democratic path.

In some metaphysical charm, other West Africans see the impending Ghanaian elections as a good omen, in a region of many bad omens that will massage them positively and awaken in them their latent democratic values that have for long been buried in the sands of instabilities, tyrany, poverty, dark spiritual practices, intolerance, civil wars, misunderstanding, political insanity and intellectual servitude.


As democratic institutions grow and the Economic Commission of West Africa (ECOWAS) increasingly encourages democratic enlargement, not only are freedoms increasingly opening up but also the media of various suasions, from the Accra Daily Mail and Statesman, which lean toward the ruling NPP, to Palaver and The Lens that tilt toward the main opposition NDC, are painstakingly driving the democratic process.

This is against the backdrop of a Ghana which democratic roots are shallow, spiritualists swinging in the political arena that blur the superstitious electorate from thinking about issues objectively, politicians not properly connected with the electorate, insults commonplace, and illiteracy inhibiting democratic expansion.

Hard choices

As the challenges of democratic growth dawn, 16 years on, some politicians are still learning the nuances of democracy, some letting loose years of one-party and military mentality, but are quickly called to democratic order.

Jerry Rawlings and Boakye-Gyan, ex-military dictators' utterances remind Ghanaians of the dark days of military juntas tyranny, threats, harassment, fear, and all that one can feel about dreadful Stalinism.

They sometimes let Ghanaians feel that their on-going democracy is "war," war among the competing political parties. But Akufo-Addo reminds them, democracy is "not war," neither is it wailing or commotion or intimidation but fuller participation of everybody, especially in discussing progress - here ideas outweigh commotion.

As the December elections near, Ghanaians are learning that the nurturing of democratic growth, based on the social and historical peculiarities, is as difficult and sometimes complicated as extricating themselves from long years of frightful military juntas and colonially bullying one-party system.

Akufo-Addo, who was one of those in the forefront of the pro-democracy movement, will attest to the struggle. For, there are still some, mostly in the political Left, who do not believe in democracy as a vehicle for progress despites what the country went through during year of troublesome military and one-party regimes that saw the country closed to freedoms to resolve its development challenges.

By being realistic of her tortuous political history and West Africa's shaky instability, the December Ghana election is as Ghanaian as it is West African, with the region and its peoples not ducking the hard choices at the heart of Ghana's democratic growth - how to balance competing values for democratic growth and help inspire and spread democracy to other West African states.

That's the task of the "Black Star of Africa" as democracy's hope.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Mahama: Break Diplomatic ties with Gambia

The National Democratic Congress vice presidential candidate, Hon. John Mahama has called for a break in diplomatic ties with The Gambia over the killing of 44 Ghanaians in 2005.

"Ghana is not putting enough pressure, if these were other young men from other countries, Gambia would have been compelled to take action by now. The first step would have been to recall our ambassador, close our mission, and break diplomatic ties with them."

John Mahama said this in a telephone interview with Joy news' Araba Koomson from South Africa where he is currently attending committee meetings of the Pan African Parliament.

He said an NDC government would take resolute action to seek justice for the victims.

Asked what his party will do differently to get the cooperation from the Gambian government, John Mahama said Ghana has treated Gambia with "kid gloves" for far too long and "If you continue to dine and wine with them you are not going to get their cooperation," He added.

Currently, a UN/ECOWAS fact-finding mission is heading to The Gambia to investigate the matter.

The team made up of representatives each of the governments of Ghana and The Gambia and headed by UN advisor Curtis Ward, will present its report in October this year.

But the vice presidential candidate said a larger team would have been more meaningful for the expected investigation.

A survivor of the brutal killings, Martin Kyere, 30, has told of how security operatives rounded them up (mostly West African nationals) after their attempts to relocate to Europe failed, accusing them of plotting to overthrow the government of Yahya Jammeh.

He said they were bundled into military vehicles guarded by heavily armed soldiers and driven far into the countryside where they were hacked, battered or sprayed with bullets.

He attributed his escape to divine intervention and said he believed God wanted him to bear witness to the crime.


Bawumia: I’m hungry for Ghana

The vice presidential candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, says positive responses he is receiving during his tour of the Northern Region have spurred him on to serve the country better than ever.

Eagerly enumerating what the people in the north stand to benefit from the NPP government under the presidency of Nana Akufo-Addo, he said, "I sound like a Ghanaian very hungry to deliver the services for mother Ghana".

And that was after Joy News' Sampson Lardi Ayenini had suggested to the newly born politician he was sounding more like a technocrat.

In an exclusive interview with Sampson who is trailing Dr. Bawumia's tour, the former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana deplored the underdevelopment of the region and promised the people that their problems would be solved when the NPP is retained in the December elections.

He said under the strong foundation laid by the Kufuor administration, "we are going forward with a new vision for the Northern Development Fund that is going to get the infrastructure that is still lacking, health and modernize agriculture in this region".

He said particular attention would be paid to agricultural development in the region because it has the "vast potential to be the bread basket of the sub-region as a whole".

Dr. Bawumia said the Northern Development Fund, which he said is a specific promise by the NPP presidential candidate, would start with an initial capital of US one billion dollars.

He said the fund would be replicated in other parts of the country where poverty is prevalent.

He noted that the NPP government won't be discriminatory in the distribution of national assets.

"The NPP is a national party that is concerned about the development of every part of Ghana," he said.

The vice presidential candidate promised that the economy of the country would be transformed to ensure that "prosperity reigns, freedom reigns and security reigns".

source : myjoyonline

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CPP calls for audited report on dismissed DCEs

Mr Samuel Kwabena Danso, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Convention
People's Party (CPP), has called on government to make public the
audited report on some dismissed District Chief Executives (DCEs)
before the December elections. He said this would go a long way in
giving credence to government's declaration of zero tolerance for
corruption, while enhancing transparency and accountability. Speaking
to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi on Thursday, Mr Danso expressed the
worry that the report of the dismissed DCEs had still not been made

According to him, the delay was raising all kinds of suspicions and
urged government not to hesitate to come out with the report for
culpable officers to be brought to book. On the CPP's popularity in
the region, Mr Danso said following the party's massive campaigns,
many of the youth were picking up forms to be registered as members
adding that statistics available to his outfit indicated that over
30,000 youth had so far been registered. He explained that this
development had given the party the confidence that it was making
inroads in some supposedly strongholds of both the New Patriotic Party
(NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the region.

Mr Danso cautioned party supporters against hypocrisy, back-biting and
arrogance, noting that it was quite unfortunate that some leading
members of the party had resolved to sabotage the flagbearer, Dr Paa
Kwesi Nduom in his bid to make a different in the December polls. He
admonished aggrieved members, who could no longer stay in the
Nkrumaist fold to leave the party peacefully and not divide its ranks.
source :GNA

Demand politics of ideas - NPP

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has urged Ghanaians to reject what it termed "negative politics of lies" and to demand the "politics of ideas" from all political parties.

The party was making particular reference to statements allegedly made by the flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Prof. John Atta-Mills a few days ago at Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa constituency in the Central region that members of the NPP who left Ghana at the height of the PNDC era were cowards.

A statement issued in Accra on Wednesday by the Nana Akufo Addo Campaign team, and signed by the Chiarman of the Communication Committee of the team said Prof. Atta Mils also accused the NPP of running a system of arbitrary arrests, particularly with regards to drivers, saying, "This are all a mouthful of lies from Prof. Atta-Mills".

The statement said many brave Ghanaians at one time or the other in the 1980's suffered death, imprisonment or exile at the hands of the PNDC regime led by the founder of the NDC, former President Rawlings. It said that amongst those who died were the three high court judges and a retired army officer, whose deaths are commemorated every June 30th.

It said amongst those jailed were Akenteng Appiah Menka, Kwame Pianim and Sam Okudzeto, as well as Tommy Thompson and Obeng Manu, both deceased.

"Included in the many that spent time in exile were the late Victor Owusu, former Presidential candidate, Mr J.H. Mensah, Dan Botwe, Asamoah Boateng, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and myself, Dr Authur Kennedy". "All these were brave and loyal citizens who risked their lives and liberties for the freedoms we have today. That so many in the NPP can be counted amongst the ranks of these brave citizens of our land is perhaps testament to our party's commitment to freedom.

"Furthermore, their names on this role are testament, not to cowardice as Prof. Mills claims but to bravery. Indeed, to have survived the dictatorship by maintaining silence in the face of the pervasive evil, as Prof Mills and many others did may have been prudent but it was not courageous".

"Those were the days when lawyers like Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Sam Okudzeto stood like sentinels in our dark night showing that right will eventually triumph over the evil of the PNDC. "Maybe, if Prof Mills needs to be reminded of the events of those days, he should talk to his mentor, former President Rawlings. If Prof Mills could not join the many who sacrificed, let him not dishonour their service".

The statement said with regards to Prof. Atta-Mills accusation of the NPP government carrying out arbitrary arrests, all persons under the current democratic dispensation, had a right to face their accusers in court, and that many who had been accused had been acquitted by courts. "The issue of drivers, the police and road safety must be carefully balanced in the interest of the public. The recent spate of accidents, many stemming from driver error and indiscipline is a major concern for all Ghanaians, including drivers.

"Where was Prof. Mills' concern about arbitrary arrests when people were picked from their homes and either jailed or executed during the PNDC era?

The statement said Prof Mills promise at Winneba at the weekend to reduce the price of fuel was ridiculous.

It said that Ghanaians understood that certain things were beyond the complete control of the ruling government and that the price of oil was one of these.

"When the NDC had a chance to prospect for oil with Prof Mills at the helm of Ghana's economic management team and Hon John Mahama at his side, he chose to focus the GNPC on everything except prospecting for oil. He has no credibility on that issue".

"Finally, all these are consistent with the NDC's policy of lying about everything just to get elected. We urge the people of Ghana to reject them"

"We are for free education for the Senior High School level and what is the NDC for?

"We are for strengthening NHIS and extending its benefits to pregnant women and children and what are they for? "We are for bridging the gap between the north and the south and what are they for?

"We will foster the environment for entrepreneurs to create the good, high-paying jobs of tomorrow and what are they for? "We are for doubling the size of the police and improving the quality of their training and what is the NDC for?

"We are for a free, fair and peaceful election that will make Ghana the model for the Zimbabwes and the Kenyas of our world and what is the NDC for?


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Independent Prez aspirant congratulates Dr. Bawumia

Independent presidential aspirant Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah has acknowledged that the presence of successful professionals in Ghana's politics is an indication of the changing phase of the whole political terrain.

In a congratulatory message to Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on his selection as the running mate to the Flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Akufo-Addo, Amoafo-Yeboah noted that such a choice is a clear signal that the political terrain of our country is progressively changing where successful professionals from other fields of endeavours must play active roles in the frontline towards the transformation of this country.

"It is time those of us who had been sitting on the fence and complaining about the politics in this country realize that, that has not brought us any dividend .We therefore have to take active part in effecting all the changes we as professionals deem necessary for national development making Ghanaians aware that politics is not a do or die affair", he noted. According Mr. Amoafo-Yeboah, with the presence of such personalities who are self made and not reliant on political power or favours of Ghana's politics to succeed, this will greatly influence the way we as a nation do our politics changing the tag 'dirty politics' or 'politricks'.

"Indeed, I am looking forward to the time when Political debates will become an arena for level headed deliberations where real issues are dealt with, on basis of facts and figures and not rumours and insults", stated Mr. Amoafo-Yeboah

Story by: Frank Agyemang (Campaign team member)

Political parties advised not to see themselves as enemies

The Most Reverend Thomas Kwaku Mensah, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kumasi, has urged political parties and their followers not to regard themselves as enemies but to campaign peacefully as the country was preparing towards the December 7 polls. He noted that Ghanaians cherish peace, stability, democracy and development and that nothing should be done to thwart the effort of the country towards the attainment of such objectives.

Most Rev Mensah was speaking at the National Civic and Voter Education Programme organized by the Dialogue and Advocacy for Good Governance (DAGG), a non-governmental Organization (NGO) of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference in Kumasi on Friday.

The programme attended by over 70 participants selected from the various diocese of the Catholic Church was under the theme: "A Well Informed Electorate-An Asset to our Fledgling Democracy". He said Ghana should be seen as beacon of hope for all the people in the Sub-Sahara and asked Ghanaians to work hard to support the Electoral Commission (EC) to ensure violent free elections. Most Rev Mensah advised the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to intensify its educational programmes to sensitize the people towards their political awareness as citizens of the country. The Archbishop called on the Media to give accurate and genuine reportage on events and avoid any sensationalism which could resort to violence, chaos and other negative practices Mr David Kangah, Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission said, according to the national census the total population of the country is 22 million as against the EC's figure of 20 million people. He said such a problem in the disparities in the population census was likely to affect the credibility of the elections and hoped that the EC would work harder to address such problem to enable the country has a credible voters register. He disclosed that the EC targeted one million people in the recent voter's registration exercise and regretted that the number exceeded the target because a quite number of unexpected people took part in the registration exercise.

The Deputy Chairman announced that the Commission would soon mount an exhibition of voters register to enable the Commission weed out all bad elements in the voters register. Mr. Kangah stressed the need for observers and polling agents to be vigilant in polling centres to monitor and supervise the elections to ensure incident free elections. He commended the church for its contributions towards socio-economic and political development towards improving the living conditions of the people. Mrs. Augustina A. Akumanyi, Deputy Chairperson in-charge of Programmes of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), said the Commission was doing its best to raise the level of political awareness on the roles and responsibilities of the people in the country. She appealed to the government to resource the Commission with adequate funds and logistics to enable it work efficiently and effectively. Monsignor Douglas Peters, Vicar Peters in a welcoming address said that DAGG has been vibrant and more participatory democratic society that seeks good governance towards a just and dignified society. She called on the participants to help enlighten the people on their civic roles and responsibilities to help ensure accelerated growth of the country.
Source: GNA

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tamale NPP youth supports Bawumia

Nana's Ideal Partner, a youth wing of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has pledged its support for Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, running mate to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, NPP flag bearer, so that the party could win the 2008 Election convincingly.

At a press briefing in Tamale on Thursday, Mr. Adam Samed, chairman of the youth wing, said members were delighted at the choice of Dr. Bawumia as running mate to Nana Akufo-Addo because it would help give NPP a landslide victory in December. Mr. Samed described Dr Bawumia as a generous person, who had sponsored vacation classes for students from the Northern Region and appealed to the youth to support the running mate and the NPP for victory.

He asked NPP supporters not to allow any internal conflict to divide their ranks and urged them to ensure that the selection of Dr. Bawumia would help in intensifying party unity. Mr Samed said Dr. Bawumia's choice as running mate was not only to ensure NPP electoral success but also as a source of encouragement to the youth and an indication that the party had good intentions for them.

Mr. Samed stressed: "Dr. Bawumia is a loyal NPP member and possesses extraordinary charisma, sound academic background and a rich knowledge of the economy, necessary attributes to ensure victory at the polls."

Mr. Alhassan Addow, NPP Northern Regional Chairman, who chaired the event, expressed gratitude to the youth for supporting the flag bearer and the National Executive Committee of the party in the selection of Dr. Bawumia as running mate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mop up eligible voters not captured in limited registration - IDEG

Mr Kwesi Jonah, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Democratic and Economic Governance (IDEG), on Tuesday appealed to the Electoral Commission to give District Election Officers the mandate to mop up eligible voters who were not captured in the recent limited voter registration exercise.

He also urged the EC to keep the names of persons registered in the recent registration exercise separate from the already existing register until thorough investigations were done and called for an active involvement of unit committees in the identification of eligible voters in the communities to help improve the quality of the registration exercise.

Mr Jonah's appeal was contained in a statement he issued on behalf of IDEG as part of the organization's observation during the exercise. IDEG, an organization that actively promotes democracy and good governance in Ghana, observed the registration exercise, which was conducted from July 31 to August 12.

The institute deployed some 200 volunteers and 25 supervisors in 26 constituencies in 26 districts covering seven administrative regions where it operated through its governance issues forum network. Mr Jonah also urged civil society organizations to play a more active role in the cleaning of the voters register for the December 2008 elections.

"The EC should do everything it can to purge the register of the names of the dead and cases of underage, alien and multiple registration."

The statement mentioned several factors, which accounted for the challenges faced during the registration exercise and noted that the big political parties in their bid to grab political power by any means resorted to encouragement of under age, alien and non-resident registration which could lead to double or multiple registrations. "It was evident also that the EC itself had grossly underestimated the scale and enormity of the task of the voter registration exercise 2008. The two-month delay in the registration exercise had brought into play many locality-specific and age specific variables that could not have been anticipated."

Giving examples, the statement said many Senior High School form three students who are 18 years and above who would be writing exams in May/June were on vacation in July/August when the exercise was going on hence they took advantage to register.

The statement also pointed out that in some regions where the National Identification registration exercise was going on at the same time, persons 18 years and above were required to produce Voter ID for citizens registration, hence the decision of some to re-register to enable them to register for National ID.

The findings by IDEG said on the whole the exercise faced numerous and unanticipated challenges including shortage of registration forms, shortage of films, shortage of laminators, faulty cameras, violent incidents between party agents and among prospective voters, loss of registration materials in some centres.

It noted that due to budgetary constraints the EC could only operate half of the 5,000 workstations required for the exercise even though there was high demand for registration driven by the value placed on voter ID cards as alternate national ID card for multiple transactional purposes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dr. Bawumia: My appointment is a call to duty

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana appointed as the vice presidential candidate to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 2008 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, NPP, has described his appointment as a 'call to duty'.

In a brief interaction with the media at the residence of Nana Akufo-Addo, Dr. Bawumia told Joy FM he feels very humbled and very happy for his appointment and expressed gratitude to the many Ghanaians he said were expressing goodwill for him.

"I am very humbled, very happy, and I feel a sense of a call to duty, I will speak in Takoradi and I thank you all and everybody else across the country for their support and expressions of good wishes and well wishes."

Dr Bawumia will be outdoored at the party's Annual Delegates' Conference at the Sekondi College in the Western Region, tomorrow Saturday and also on Sunday at the party's rally to be held at the Takoradi Polytechnic Park.

His nomination by Nana Akufo-Addo and subsequent endorsement by the party's National Executive Committee surprised many, including known party figures who have opposed his appointment and expressed reservations.

Two of the early persons tipped to be in the reckoning for the position, Alhaji Rashid Bawa, Ghana's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and Lepowura Alhaji M.N.D. Jawula the former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, told Joy FM that they fully support Bawumia's appointment and pledged to work towards the NPP retaining power.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Media urged to help consolidate democracy

The Eastern Regional Director of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Emmanuel Quaye-Sowah, has reminded the media of their role to consolidate democracy to ensure peaceful Election 2008.

He said the media could use their gate keeping role "to black out" any inflammatory speech or issue on a political platform likely to inflame passions in the run up to the elections.

"Election 2008 has been reduced to a straight contest of regaining power and retaining power. As educators we are to educate and guide players in the contest and devise strategies to prevent chaos," he said.

Mr Quaye-Sowah was speaking at a forum with media practitioners in Koforidua on Monday to sensitize the media and the public to ensure peaceful and violence free elections.

He explained that the role of the NCCE to educate people on their civic responsibilities and rights and the media's role to inform the public had a point of convergence hence the forum to map up strategies with the media for violence free election in the Region.

Mr Quaye-Sowah observed that Ghana had conducted four successive elections and was expected to undertake the December 7 polls without any setback but ugly developments from the registration exercise called for concern.

He said from all indications this years' election would be of the deepest anxieties "since the two dominant political parties by the grace of the sovereign will of the people have a good bite of the political pudding".

Mr Quaye-Sowah therefore stressed the need for stakeholders in Election 2008 to use the 1992 Constitution as the best reference in any endeavour so that its provisions guide them to conduct their activities in an acceptable manner.

He said NCCE's interest was to guide political parties to adhere to provisions in the constitution and denied that NCCE had conducted a poll on the elections.

Mr Quaye-Sowah explained that it was a survey on issues of concern to the electorate that had been blown out of proportion to misrepresent the NCCE.

He said as part of its mandate, NCCE periodically carried out surveys on issues to enable them strategies and cited the issue of child labour on cocoa farms.

Source: GNA

Kofi Annan urges EC: Assert your independence

Busumuru Kofi Annan, the immediate past Secretary-General of the United Nations, has called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to assert its independence and enforce the electoral rules without fear or favour during this year's general election.

He said the independence of the EC was particularly important this year following some events in Africa, especially Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Mr Annan gave the advice at the 60th anniversary special congregation held at the University of Ghana, Legon yesterday, which also coincided with his investiture as Chancellor of the University.

The occasion also witnessed the conferment of honorary degrees on 16 personalities who have distinguished themselves in various categories.

The oath of office was administered by President John Agyekum Kufuor at the ceremony, which had in attendance, academic and administrative staff of the university, alumni, members of the diplomatic corps, flag bearers of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills respectively, ministers of state, Members of Parliament and chiefs, among other dignitaries.

Mr Annan also reminded the country's political leaders of their responsibility to ensure that the December elections were conducted in a free and fair manner.

He said he had no doubt that the elections would be conducted smoothly and in an atmosphere of peace, but asked the political leaders to accept the code of conduct for the elections and play by the rules.

He, however, advised them to be mindful of what they say, saying that while the use of words could lead, console and inspire, they could also hurt, incite and provoke.

The former United Nations Secretary-General was hopeful that the people of Ghana would be observing the conduct of the politicians and when the elections were held in a peaceful manner, the people would have demonstrated that democracy in the country had been consolidated.

He said it was important for the media to exercise their freedom to operate with responsibility and good judgement.

Mr Annan, however, stressed the importance of education and said no country would progress without recognising the role of universities, whose roles among others are to equip and enrich people with knowledge and skills to help with the socio-economic development of the country

President Kufuor said the university had conferred the honour on a truly deserving son of the land and that a chancellor of a university should notably be a trustworthy and highly respected individual of proven ability, whose association with the institution was intended to raise its prestige and heighten its profile.

He said the chancellor had served the world with distinction and had returned home laden with many honours and brought honour to Ghana.

"The accolade conferred on you today can therefore be considered as a justifiable acknowledgement of your services to mankind," the President stated, adding that he was confident that under Mr Annan's guidance, the university would achieve greater heights and shine even more.

Mr Kufuor announced a 60th birthday present of GH¢60 million to the university which is to be disbursed in instalments of GH¢6 million for the next 10 years.

He suggested that a quarter of the grant should be used to endow a chair for the study of Responsible Democratic Governance, as a necessary basis for sound economic and social development.

The balance of the grant, he noted, should be shared with a further quarter to support the general budget of the university and the remaining half for the establishment of an institute for the study of Environment and Sanitation Sciences.

Mr Tony Oteng Gyasi, Chairman of the University Council, said the congregation marked the high point in the calendar of activities celebrating the 60th anniversary of the existence of the university.

He recalled that on August 11, 1961, the then President of the first Republic, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, gave presidential assent to an Act of Parliament, which established the free, autonomous and sovereign University of Ghana.

"This is the reason for our choice of today, August 11, as the high point of our celebration," he explained.

Prof. Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, said as a university where young and idealistic minds engaged with older minds in the battle of ideas, things did get out of hand and also occasionally, in the pursuit of their legitimate demand for improved conditions of service, the staff unions flexed their muscles and in both instances, the university became the subject of banner headlines.

He pleaded with Mr Annan that when these things occurred, he should take them with the tolerance, forbearance and equanimity that he was well known for.

Those who were honoured with the degrees included Lawrence A. Boadi, an illustrious international linguist; Dr G. R. Woodman, a lawyer and researcher in Law, and Selena Axelrod Winsnes, a famous historian on slavery along the west coast of Africa, for distinguished scholarship.

Raymond Bagulo Bening was honoured for his contribution to tertiary education, while Kwabena Adjei was honoured for his contribution to industry.

Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas and Dr Paul Acquah were honoured as alumni of whom the university was especially proud.

Mr J.H. Mensah, Robert Lee, Sheik Nuhu Sharubutu and Docia Naki Kisseih were honoured for their distinguished contribution to public service.

The nominees for the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial lectures were Mary Robinson, Paul Boateng and James D. Wolfensohn, none of whom was present but would have their conferment at the appropriate time.

Because the university does not confer degrees posthumously, a minute of silence was observed for the late Peter Ala Adjetey, who was also nominated for distinguished contribution to public service.

Source: Daily Graphic

Compromise candidate to partner Nana Addo?

Snippets of information picked up by myjoyonline, indicate that the New Patriotic Party presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, may not select any of the names hogging the media as his running mate.

Sources say the NPP's flag-bearer would possibly settle on a compromise candidate.

Joy News says Alhaji Adam Zakaria, the Principal of Bagabaga Teachers' Training College and a leading member of the Northern Regional NPP, and Dr. Ibn Chambers, President of the ECOWAS Commission, were on Sunday met by Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo, to possibly fill the running mate slot.

Speaking to Joy FM's Super Morning Show host, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, on Tuesday, Mustapha Hamid, Spokesperson for Nana Addo, confirmed the presidential candidate's meeting with the two.

However, he could neither confirm whether any of them have been chosen for the job, nor could he tell if any of the names making rounds in the media have also been side-stepped.

Nana Akufo-Addo will tomorrow present his choice of running mate to the National Executive Committee of the party for consideration.

Mustapha Hamid said even though Nana Akufo-Addo's "initial choice is Hajia Alima Mahama", but with strong opposition from party bigwigs like B.J. da Rocha and Nyaho Tamakloe, the flag-bearer "needed to step back a bit to pick somebody who would be accepted by everybody".

He was emphatic that Nana Addo is his own man and would not succumb to any pressure.

"The choice that would be made, would be clearly Nana Addo's choice and not from the party…Nana Addo himself has gone to the market and shop for someone he can work with," he said.

The NPP's General Secretary, Nana Ohene-Ntow, denied that the party has rejected any candidate because "Nana Addo has not presented any candidate to the party. That would be done on Wednesday".

He said all that the party is looking for is someone with capabilities, who can partner Nana Addo and the party can work with.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

EC extends messy voter registration exercise

The Electoral Commission (EC) on Sunday extended by two days the limited registration of voters that has been characterised by confusion, shortage of forms, films, cameras and violence. The EC said the exercise that should have ended on Sunday has been by two days to cater for crowds that are still in long queues across the country.

The exercise, meant to capture those who have turned 18 years and others who do not have their names on the ballot, will now end at 1800 hours on Tuesday, August 12, according to a statement signed by Christian Owusu-Parry, Acting Director of Public Affairs.

The statement said the extension was "to enable regional directors of the Commission to arrange to cater for all eligible persons who are still in queues to be registered".

The EC asked regional directors to "mobilise all resources to enable them to cov er all such applicants in their respective regions within the two days, ending 6 pm (1800 hours) on Tuesday, 12th August 2008".

It said "special registration centres" would be established at the Head Office and regional offices of the Commission to cater for the physically challenged within the period.

The EC has been overwhelmed by huge crowds that have thronged the registration centres, well beyond the 800,000 to one million it had projected to capture.

David Adeenze-Kangah, EC Deputy Chairman in-Charge of Finance and Administration, described the huge turnout as an abnormal phenomenon.

"We have never experienced huge inflows of potential voters at the centres to register during limited registration exercise since the inception of the Fourth Republic. Not even during the main exercise has the intensity been almost constant throughout the period," he told the Ghana News Agency in an interview.

The two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC), have been trading accusations about violence, registration of minors and confusion that have characterised the exercise.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Registration exercise still plagued by lack of logistics, security

Mayor of Accra, Nii Stanley Adjiri Blankson on Friday assigned security officers to registration centres in Accra as the exercise continued to grapple with lack of security personnel and logistics.

Accompanied by the Deputy Greater Accra Regional Police Commander Bright Oduro and a team of policemen, he detailed four policemen to each centre to beef up security and maintain law and order. Long queues, disorder and commotion characterized the exercise at the various centres visited and policemen had to calm nerves for the registration to proceed.

Nii Adjiri said his tour of the centres was not to interfere with the work of the Electoral Commission (EC) but to see to the maintenance of law and order at the centres. He called on the EC to provide enough logistics to the centres to help improve the situation and ensure that people were not disenfranchised.

On extension of the exercise he said the EC was in a better position to do so adding, "the EC knows better and we will leave them to revisit the issue and do what they can do best".

At Awudome Centre, the Electoral Registration Officer, Nana Adawa Boateng, said the centre had registered over 1,200 people since the start of the exercise and 50 as at 0945 hors on Friday. She said those who slept at the centre and those who came in the early hours of the morning were given numbers to enable them to be served on time.

Nana Boateng called for the extension of the exercise and more police personnel to beef up security to help maintain law and order. She also called for an increase in the number of registration officers to enable them to register as many people as possible. Expressing her frustration to the press, she said: "It is very stressful and we need a top-up of the police because the only police officer here is overwhelmed by the numbers making it difficult to control the people."

At Mukose, North Kaneshie Assemblies of God Centre, the registration officer, Yakubu Hamidu said there was pandemonium when an Assembly Member for the Area disrupted the exercise because the party agents in agreement with the EC agreed that two volunteers be allowed to help speed up the exercise because the centre had witnessed one of the longest queues since the start of the exercise.

He said the Assembly member therefore ordered that the volunteers be excused thereby infuriating voters who were of the view that the volunteers were doing a great job and helping to serve prospective voters in the queue. Attempts to get his side of the story were futile because he could not be traced.

At Bubii SDA Electoral Area, the registration team of one officer, one shader, one laminator and one photographer had run out films thus slowing down the process. The Registration Officer, Samuel Tagoe also asked for security personnel and logistics. 8 Aug. 08


Tema West NPP holds reconciliation meeting

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) members of Tema West constituency on Friday night held a reconciliatory party aimed at uniting with a common purpose of campaigning together and winning massively in the impending elections to retain the seat. The party brought together all the 10 polling station chairmen, opinion leaders and executive members in the camps of the newly elected parliamentary candidate, Madam Naa Torshie Addo and the incumbent MP Mr Abraham Ossei-Aidoo, the Majority Leader.

Before the primary was held last Saturday August 2, conflict arose between the camps of the incumbent and the candidate accusing each other of playing tactics to delay the event and this generated tension. The primary was however held in a peaceful atmosphere with Madam Addo, a lawyer and Ghana's Deputy Ambassador to the United States winning overwhelmingly with 55 votes against Mr Ossei-Aidoo, also Parliamentary Affairs Minister polling 37 votes.

During the primary she publicly apologized to the incumbent MP to forgive and forget about the occurrence for which he readily accepted. Addressing the executives at the dinner, Madam Addo appealed to all to bury the differences between them and rather close their ranks to prevent infiltrations from other parties. She called for their support by intensifying their campaigns to enable the party to win massively as the continued skirmishes have the tendency to erode the gains achieved.

The candidate, who looked confident pledged to consult and tap the rich ideas and experience in parliamentary affairs of the incumbent lawyer Ossei-Aiddo to run her administration. "I will forever consult Mr Aidoo's for his advice to move the party forward because in unity lies strength since the constituency has the potential of retaining win the seat", she declared. Madam Addo however called for their vigilance at the polling stations to ensure that the elections is conducted smoothly. Though Mr Aidoo was not present in person because he was said to have travelled outside the country, supporters of his camp were present in their numbers at the party which aimed at sealing their get-together. 09 Aug. 08

Friday, August 8, 2008

No complacency, Nigerian EC Commissioner warns

The chairman of the independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, Professor Maurice M. lwu, has cautioned Ghana not to be complacent but remain focused to sustain the good democratic credentials it has won for itself.

He said Ghana was so strategically important to the peace and stability of the West African sub-region that every effort must be made by all actors in the electoral process to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in December.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, Prof. Iwu said; "Elections in Ghana are no longer a Ghanaian affair because they will attract the attention of both friends and enemies of the country, so we should not be naive to think that everybody wishes us well."

Prof. Iwu was in Ghana to deliver a paper on: "Reflections from the 2007 Nigerian Elections – Lessons", at the Third Daily Graphic Governance Dialogue, which was held at the Accra International Conference Centre on Tuesday, August 5, 2008 and Wednesday, August 6, 2008. It was on the general theme: "Effective Democratic Governance: The Role of Stakeholders".

Before his departure to Nigeria on Thursday, Prof Iwu told the Daily Graphic that free, fair and peaceful elections could be ensured, if the country had a well prepared and ready Electoral Commission, as well as an informed electorate.

He said there was also the need to have a more transparent electoral process to inject trust and confidence in the whole exercise of electoral management.

Sharing his view on the alleged registration of minors, double or multiple registration and other electoral abuses in the on-going limited registration exercise, Prof Iwu said, "It is unfortunate because the Ghanaian society has been praised globally as a country where the rule of law and good governance has been entrenched".

He called for an intensified voter and civic education for those involved to realise the damage they were doing to the country's hard won image in democratic accountability and good governance.

"I am, however, glad the issue is already in the public domain and people are talking about it and frowning at it", he stated and called for strict enforcement of laid down rules and regulations guiding the electoral process.

"Any rule or regulation that does not have sanctions will be difficult to enforce; enforcement of rules is part of the democratic process because you want to show that nobody is above the law," he stressed.

Fortunately, he said, Ghana had in place a system where a voter could only vote once, "so if somebody goes to do multiple registration, he is only going to swell the voter register unnecessarily because he would only have the opportunity to vote once".

The INEC Chairman said Ghana was lucky to have an effective and efficient Electoral Commission capable of delivering credible elections and, therefore, "we are very confident that the EC of Ghana is up to the task because it is one of the best in the world".

Prof. Iwu was confident that at the end of the elections in December, the intent of voters would be expressed and captured, stressing, "that is what is important".

He, however, frowned on Africa's over-reliance on foreign observers to pronounce their verdict on the credibility or otherwise of our elections. "I am particularly concerned where the credibility of elections was judged by the views of foreign observers who are not necessarily impartial," he said.

Source: Daily Graphic

Poll puts NDC ahead

A survey conducted by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) forecasts a slim first-round victory for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the December election.

The poll which sampled some 5327 respondents puts the NDC leading with 42.9 percent whilst the NPP trails next with 42.6 percent, a difference of 0.3 percent.

The Convention People's Party (CPP) and the People's National Convention (PNC) respectively mustered 6.3 and 1.1 percent.

The poll which was conducted in April 2008, also predicts a high voter turnout. Some 96.9 percent of voters would cast their ballot in December.

Speaking to Joy News, the principal research officer at the NCCE, Elizabeth Jeffery Amoako, said the poll was intended to "solicit the opinions of voters as regards who they would vote for."

To ensure a high reliability and accuracy, respondents were sampled across the country from three imaginary divisions: northern, middle and coastal sectors.

The results also sought to find out the issues that would shape voting trends on "Super Sunday". Voters prioritised education, health and agriculture (in that order) in a list of 10 items.

Mixed reactions

Myjoyonline Ghana News Photos | The big figures of Ghanaian politics
The big figures of Ghanaian politics
At least all the political parties on whom the survey was conducted, except the NDC, have expressed doubts about the reliability of the poll.

The NPP's campaign communications director, Dr Arthur Kennedy challenged the results citing an earlier survey conducted by his party.

"Whilst we are not sure to what extent it is accurate, we have done our own survey that shows that up to 27 percent of the electorate are undecided."

He said less than 4 percent remaining undecided in the NCCE gauge made the results "surprising" to the NPP.

Dr Kennedy stated that the NPP could do better as it recovers from the shocks that have rocked the party's primaries.

However, reacting to the issues, the national organiser of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, said the poll presented his party with a challenge to work harder to consolidate its position on the minds of voters.

Mr Ofosu Ampofo played down predictions that the December polls would enter a second round, stating, the NDC is already stoking its campaign with strategies to ensure a one-time win.

"The NDC are clinching very firmly to our one-touch," he stated.

Kosi Dede, the CPP publicity committee chairman, said his party's 6.3 percentage points was a good reason for the CPP to work harder ahead of the elections.

He was however quick to blame the CPP's abysmal performance on resource constraints.

The PNC however said its 1.1 margin was not reflective of the reality on the ground.


Pre-Election Violence And Irregularities Worries Watchdogs

Independent observers and civil society groups in Ghana say voter registration, the first major step towards landmark general elections in December, is being marred by violence and irregularities.

In the north of Ghana supporters of the two main political parties - the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) - vandalised registration centres on 2 August and gun shots were heard in Tamale, the capital of the northern region, during voter registration.

The Media Foundation for West Africa, a press-freedom monitoring group, warned that five journalists covering voter registration in Tamale were attacked by supporters from both parties.

One of the journalists, Alhassan Abdul Ganiuw Brigandi, with local newspaper The Independent, was filing a report on the registration of underage voters allegedly transported to the voting station by NDC supporters.

On 6 August, one person sustained serious knife wounds and two people were arrested by the police in another clash in the Volta Region of southeastern Ghana.

"I am not surprised at the acrimony; it's definitely a crucial election, but the parties must first protect the peace," said Kwesi Amakye, a political science lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in Accra.


Ghanaians will vote on 7 December to elect a new president and members of parliament. The election is seen as a landmark because it is the first time in the country's democratic history that a president who won power in democratic elections has served his constitutionally mandated two four-year terms and has to hand over the presidency.

Polls suggest the election will be close and is likely to go into a run-off.

Registering newly qualified voters who have just reached the voting age of 18 and adults who have never registered before is the first major step towards the elections.

Spokespeople for the NPP and NDC contacted by IRIN denied their supporters were involved in violence or illegal registration activities. Each accused the other of being responsible.

However, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, an elections watchdog, said in a statement issued on 4 August that the violence and irregularities have been "widespread".

David Adanzee-Kangah, deputy chairman of Ghana's Electoral Commission, the government body mandated to organise and facilitate elections, said the disturbances are "unprecedented" in Ghana's recent political history.


Observers are concerned not just about the clashes but also the registration process itself.

"Our main concern is that political parties are sponsoring minors to go and register so they can vote illegally come election day," said John Lavea, the Programme Coordinator at the Centre for Democratic Development, a member of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers.

Lavea says the coalition has also had reports of non-Ghanaians from neighbouring countries being paid to cross the border to register so they can vote in the elections in December.

The police in the Volta Region of Ghana, which shares a border with Togo, have arrested two people suspected of registering Togolese in the ongoing voter registration exercise said Assistant Commissioner of Police, Kofi Adei-Akyeampong.

The registration exercise, which is scheduled to run for 10 days, has also suffered some administrative challenges as registration centres have received far more people than expected.

In some parts of Ghana, people have started queuing at midnight to be sure of getting into the registration centres the next days.

Adanzee-Kangah, Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission, said this is "an abnormal situation never before seen in the history of this exercise".

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Voter registeration turnout shocks EC

The Electoral Commission (EC) has described the turnout for the voter registration exercise across the country as abnormal, requiring urgent contingency plans.

The commission says the sheer volume of people who storm the registration centres is unprecedented.

Reports indicate that long queues of several hundreds of persons eligible to vote in the December 7 polls, are commonplace at registration centres across the country.

The commission says it is even more worried about reports of bussing of minors around polling stations to register.

The deputy chairman of the EC, Mr David Adenze Kanga told Joy News the current development is beyond the control of the commission.

He however promised that all qualified persons would be given the opportunity to register even on the last day.

"The number …is far in excess of what we anticipated," Mr Kanga said.

Meanwhile Joy News' investigations also revealed that the long queues may not necessarily be eligible voters under pressure to exercise their franchise in the December 7 ballot.

A snapshot of responses gathered revealed a veritable alphabet soup of reasons for which these persons would wait for hours under the hot scorching sun to get a simple card.

For a good number of the eligible voters, they only need their names in the voters register to, at least, secure a symbol of national identity.

Several thousands of eligible voters have not been registered although officials of the major political parties in the country have made strong appeals for an extension of the registration period.

Observers however say the large numbers of unregistered persons could fan a need for an extension by the EC.

source: joy fm

Dialogue crucial for peaceful elections

Ghanaians of all political persuasions and responsibilities have been advised to embrace dialogue as a means to peaceful; free and fair elections in December.

Speakers at the 3rd Daily Graphic Governance Dialogue that opened in Accra Tuesday were unanimous that through dialogue Ghana would succeed in firming up the democratic credentials that had made it a continental icon for others.

The speakers - including notable politicians, bankers and entrepreneurs said Ghana had, through its stable and peaceful nature, provided a shining example on the continent and could not fail the world as it went to the polls to elect a new President and Members of Parliament to govern the nation for the next four years.

Their call come in the wake of heightening tension among the political parties as a result of the stress and sometime violence at many stations where new voters are being registered by the Electoral Commission.

The opening ceremony of the dialogue, which attracted the largest number of participants since its inception three years ago, was spiced by performances in dance and music by the Tema Youth Choir and the Ghana Dance Ensemble.

The theme for this years dialogue is: "Effective Democratic Governance: The role of stakeholders", and it has the objective of explaining the multi-dimensional aspects involved in the governance of a nation; making civil society aware of their roles in shaping the destiny of their countries, as well as reviewing the progress on the democratic process & in the West African sub-region.

Delivering the opening address the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, who stood in for the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, said "since we are all stakeholders in this enterprise called Ghana, which we need to secure for our collective good and prosperity, we should all play our role in ensuring that the integrity of the election is without a shadow of doubt".

He added that "as we stand at the threshold of a new and better Ghana, ruled by a better man or the best man, we should all be committed to moving forward".

Mr Ghartey said the government had confidence in the electoral system, which is policed by the people at the polling stations.

"We have confidence in our Electoral Commission, whose independence, efficiency and integrity is recognised throughout Africa; we have confidence in our political process, we have confidence in our judiciary that has shown it has the capacity to resolve disputes, including election disputes, fairly and impartially," he observed.
Mr Ghartey said the government was also confident about the security agencies, which had demonstrated a high sense of professionalism in Ghana and abroad, and indicated that "we are all committed to free and fair elections devoid of violence, bitterness, and acrimony".

He said Ghanaians needed to recognise that though they differed in views, "we are all each other's keeper".

Mr Ghartey said what confronted the nation today was that "whilst we applaud ourselves for the significant gains we have made in resisting rule by oppressors, both internal and external, by creating laws, mechanisms and institutional good corporate governance, in furtherance of our natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity, we have not yet reached utopia".

The Attorney-General acknowledged the management and workers of Graphic Communications Group Limited for organising the dialogue, saying, "It is good for the country and it is a testimony to the credit of the Graphic group, which is, no doubt, a socially responsible company".

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, for his part, emphasised the need for peaceful, free and fair elections in the country.

He said much as people might differ in ideology, dialogue was an important tool to ensure peace and stability.

The Managing Director of Barclays Bank, Ghana, Mrs Margaret Mwanakatwe, mentioned shared understanding, information flow in a transparent manner and uniformity of purpose as some of the key tenets to ensuring a peaceful nation.

She was confident that such tenets would lead to improved lives and create an environment conducive for business and democratic growth.

Mrs Mwanakatwe joined other speakers from the Finatrade Group, Stanbic Bank and Ghana Commercial Bank, all key sponsors of the programme, in congratulating the organisers of the dialogue on their foresight and commitment to ensuring the practice of good democratic governance not only in Ghana but also in the sub-region in general.

The Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, in his welcoming address, said the move by the company formed part of the company's resolve to ensure a peaceful nation and sub-region, to enable business to thrive while the democratic principles also got entrenched through the practice of good governance.

Source: Daily Graphic

NPP, PNC call for extension of voter registration exercise

The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the People's National Convention (PNC) on Tuesday appealed to the Electoral Commission (EC) to extend the on-going limited voter registration exercise due to operational lapses over the past six days. The lapses include shortage of registration Form A and compliant forms, alleged registration of minors and foreigners, slow pace of the registration process, movement of registration team, and intimidation of NPP agents.

"Our monitoring and assessment of the registration exercises since its inception on July 31st indicate that, EC has failed to provide adequate registration materials at some electoral centres, particularly strongholds of the party, registration of minors and intimidation tactics by the operatives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC)," Nana Ohene Ntow, NPP General Secretary, stated in Accra. Nana Ohene Ntow at press conference organized to express the party's concern about the current registration exercise also tasked the EC to take more stringent measures to check the registration of minors and foreigners and ensure availability of adequate registration materials at all centres.

Meanwhile, the PNC flag bearer, Dr. Edward Mahama in an electronic mail from the United State of America to the Ghana News Agency, commended the EC and the media for whipping-up enthusiasm in the registration exercise leading to high turn-out at the centres. "In view of the unanticipated high turn-out the PNC calls on the EC to either extend the 11-day period or increase the number of registration officials to ensure that the youth who qualify to register do so." The PNC also appealed to the electoral administrative body to ensure that all Ghanaians who were eligible to register were not denied the right to vote.

The NPP said the EC's timetable for the movement of registration team from one centre to the other reduced the actual working period at a particular centre for the 11-day duration. "EC's arrangement was that the registration team stays in one electoral area between five and six days then moves to another centre for the rest of the period. With this kind of arrangement the registration centre is opened only for about five or six days and not eleven days as the EC had indicated," the NPP General Secretary explained.

The NPP also noted that the shortage of registration materials at some centres, especially within the strongholds of the NPP particularly Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Eastern regions were unacceptable developments, as the EC made all Ghanaians to understand that it was fully prepared by way of logistics, and that their budget for the registration exercise had been fully met by the government. "If today we are finding shortages of materials then obviously this will be resulting more from EC's own operational lapses rather than inadequate budgetary allocations from government.clearly the political parties or government cannot be blamed for such a situation," Nana Ohene Ntow stated. The party called on parents to prevent their children under the voting age from registering as the act constituted an electoral offence. "The NPP has tasked its agents to compile names of minors who register and would initiate the necessary actions against them." The NPP accused NDC of registering minors in the Northern and Volta regions and said "we call on our agents to use all legitimate means to prevent their registration."

In spite of the challenges the NPP pledged its commitment to the rule of law, to abide by the laws, rules and regulations regarding elections and the entire electoral process to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in December. It also pledged to avoid acts of lawlessness, intimidation and violence that may have the potential to mar the beauty of the nation's fledging democratic experience. The NPP also encouraged Ghanaians who have attained the voting age to register and vote.

The EC on July 31 started the first phase of processes for the revision of the voters' register to ensure that all eligible voters are captured for the December polls. The 11-day nationwide voters' registration exercises seeks to capture mainly the youth who have attained the voting age of 18 years and above, and people who could not register during the last exercise in 2006.

A visit by GNA to some of the electoral areas across the country revealed that anxious youth reporting in their numbers to register. The development is in sharp contrast to the usual registration apathy experienced in the past. In an interview with the GNA, Mrs. Philomena Edusei, Deputy Regional Director, explained that applicants who were 20 years and above and were not registered would have to give reasons why they did not register in 2004 or 2006, when they were given the opportunity to do so.

The registration of such persons would entail the administration of a declaration or undertaking form in addition to the normal registration procedures. She said each registration centre would be manned by a minimum of four officials -- a registration officer, a shader, a laminator and a workshop operator. On the role of Party Agents, Mrs. Edusei said the EC, in collaboration with the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) agreed that they should not interfere in the registration process. "A Party Agent can be asked to leave the registration centre if the Registration Officer feels the Agent is obstructing the registration process."

Mrs. Edusei said the Party Agents were also forbidden from talking directly to persons who turned up to register. They cannot recruit people or campaign for their parties while at the registration centre and cannot touch any registration document without the permission of the Registration Officer.

Police Condemned for Storming A Radio Station

Ghana's police are coming under intense criticism after some policemen stormed into "Radio Gold," an independent radio station in the capital, Accra, and arrested the financial comptroller. This comes after police claim they received a tipoff of an ongoing-armed robbery on the station premises in the early hours of Tuesday morning. But the radio station dismissed the police assertion as bogus and without merit, accusing police of what it described as "unnecessary use of brute force" after some workers were severely beaten The financial comptroller was finally arrested.

Some political analysts are worried that a group of law enforcement officials are tarnishing the reputation of the organization. Roland Acquah-Steven is the head of the news division of Radio Gold. From the capital, Accra, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the police acted unprofessionally.

"What really happened this morning is that about 15 or so minutes to the end of the morning show, some residents of the Ablekuma north constituency in the Greater Accra region, affected a citizens arrest of an activist of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) who they suspected was engaged in electoral malpractice or fraud for that matter. Apparently, they had already gone to the police station to launch a complaint, but they brought him to the radio station so as Ghanaians would hear exactly what had transpired in that particular registration center at Ablekuma north constituency," Acquah-Steven pointed out.

He said the policemen forced their way to the radio station, assaulted workers, and arrested the station's financial controller.

"Unbeknownst to us, somebody had alerted the police authority. So, the police people drove in here and it was a scene to behold. When they got down from their vehicle, they started beating people. But while I was in the studio, some of my colleagues barged into the studio and said Fred has been arrested. And I said which of the Fred's have been arrested, since we have two Freds here. And they said it was Fred Ayensu the accountant or the financial comptroller for that matter," he said.

Acquah-Steven said the police charged and released the financial comptroller for obstructing police work.

"As we speak, Fred Ayensu was released earlier in the day, and the charged preferred against him was obstructing their work. And he has been granted bail. But we were taken aback and as a station, we have not decided yet what to do specifically in line with this arrest," Acquah-Steven noted.

He said the police acted unprofessionally, in what the station described as an affront to the sensibilities of Ghanaians.

"The point is when law enforcement officers do come to your premises, obviously since they are officers of the law, you don't expect them to come in and misbehave or act unprofessionally. So for us, our doors would always be open to the police and we would always welcome them with our arms wide open because they are law enforcers. But we expect that they will treat us with civility and act professionally as expected of police officers," he said.

Acquah-Steven condemned the action of the police as highly unfortunate.

"What we are expecting from the police is to do what is right. They had information which was not credible and acted wrongly and illegally because they illegally entered our premises to do what they did, arresting the financial comptroller. So you expect that as professional law enforcement agency they would do what is right. First and most significantly, they will apologize and then rectify the wrong they have occasioned to our station, and then we take it from there," Acquah-Steven pointed out.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

NPP/NDC factions unite behind independent candidate

Factions of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Akwatia constituency, have decided to throw their weight behind Mr Basil Ahiable, aspiring independent parliamentary candidate in the 2008 Election.

The factions that declared their support at a news conference organized by the "Ahiable for Parliament Campaign Team at Akwatia, however, indicated that they would vote for their respective presidential candidates in the presidential elections.

Assigning reasons for their intention, the groups, whose statement was read by Mr Edward Apeadu, a former constituency secretary of the NPP, said they had voted on party lines from 1992 but had had nothing to boast of except "Silent MPs in Parliament who had failed in their promise to bring development and unity".

They said Akwatia could not continue to be in that situation hence the need for an independent parliamentary candidate in the person of Mr Ahiable who was "vibrant, vocal and could unite the people".

Mr Apeadu and the spokesman for the NDC group, Mr Edward Yiadom-Boakye, the party's former youth organizer, said there was no way they would recind their decision to support the independent candidate. The Communications Manager of the campaign team, Mr S. O. Appiah, said it was significant to note that for once, supporters of the two major parties in Ghana within the constituency had come together to rally behind an independent parliamentary candidate. He said the paraphernalia displayed at the event attested to the noble innovation which would go a long way to unite the already polarized people in the constituency.

Mr Appiah spelled out a four-pronged approach which Mr Ahiable would use in solving "the difficult situation in the constituency, which included enhancing the interest of the youth in education and setting up retention schemes for hard working teachers in the constituency. Others were personal contacts and government assistance to diversify the economic activities in the constituency, lobbying policy markers to add the constituency to their development agenda and uniting the people for development.

A large number of supporters of Mr Ahiable attended the function amidst singing, drumming and dancing.

Kids Register To Vote

The Electoral Commission (EC) Tamale has appealed to the security agencies to come to its aid, in view of violent clashes that have erupted in the metropolis since the start of the voter-registration exercise. The Regional Director of the EC, Sylvester D. Kanyi indicated that there had been mayhem of various degrees at registration centres, resulting in assaults on officials and vandalizing of materials.

"It has therefore become necessary for the Commission to make the request in order to ensure peaceful registration exercise in Tamale," a cry for help from the volatile area stated. Meanwhile, it has emerged that some political leaders within the Northern Region are encouraging minors to register in the ongoing voter registration exercise at the various polling stations in Tamale, thereby heightening tension in the area.These incidences were occurring in spite of warnings from authorities of the EC.

A visit to 23 out of the 27 registration centres in the Tamale Metropolis revealed that some known political figures (names withheld) were bent on registering juveniles who, according to Daily Guide's investigations, were far below the minimum required age of 18 years. At one of the centres, one Abdulraman Osman found it difficult to mention his date of birth when quizzed by the paper.All he could say was that he was born in 1990. The NDC, which had consistently criticized the EC over alleged bloated register, was alleged to be engaged in this practice.

In the full glare of the security personnel and other election observers, some youth leaders of the NDC (names withheld) in particular were spotted by Daily Guide during a visit to a particular polling station leading some minors, some covering their heads with head gears, to the registration centres. The electoral officers and the security personnel at some centres found it very difficult to challenge the children, as the political party representatives quickly and violently came to their defence, with some threatening the officials.

In a bid to interview some minors in the queue at the Queen Elizabeth Day Nursery Centre in the Tamale Central Constituency, the Daily Guide said, its reporter was violently pushed aside by some thugs believed to be members of a certain political party. At the Zogbeli Primary, also in the Tamale Central Constituency, one primary 4 pupil confessed during police interrogation that he and 12 others in his class were asked by a brother who was a political leader (name withheld) in their area to come and register.

In another development, confirmed police reports have revealed that two New Patriotic Party (NPP) polling station agents were severely brutalized by some members of the opposition NDC when they challenged the ages of some minors at the registration centres. The hell was beaten out of one Abdul Samed Mohammed at the Kalpohin SDA polling station when he challenged the ages of some juveniles who had been transported to the centre to register.

Dissatisfied with the confrontation, a group of thugs believed to be supporters of the minors stormed the registration centre and physically assaulted him till he became unconscious; a situation which compelled the security officer detailed to the area to run for cover. The victim, according to police sources, is stilI in a critical condition at the Tamale Teaching Hospital. The Northern Regional Police Commander, DCOP Ephraim Okoh Brakatu said no arrest had so far been made, since the victim could not talk.

Osman Suleman, on the second day of registration, had his fair share of the brutality when he also tried challenging the ages of some minors at the Unity Primary School Registration Centre. But for the timely arrival of the Regional Police Commander and other security personnel, he would have had a different story to tell. DCOP Okoh Brakat assured residents that he would beef up security in some of the areas to forestall some of these hiccups in the registration exercise. He admitted that minors were seen at most of the polling stations ready to register, but said it was for the EC to manage that. According to him, the duty of the security personnel in the area was to maintain peace and ensure an incident-free exercise.

The Northern Regional Director of the EC Sylvester D. Kanyi said the polling station at the Kalpohin SDA School had been relocated to forestall the reoccurrence of violence at the centre. Meanwhile, the National Youth Organizer of the NPP, Mr. John Boadu has expressed concern over the apparent involvement of kids in the registration exercise especially in the Northern Region. At an emergency press conference in Tamale, Mr. Boadu asked the EC to sanitize the exercise in the interest of peace. He stressed that the involvement of minors who were pushed by some political leaders should be discouraged, and appealed to the EC to immediately check the practice as it was a deliberate attempt by some parties to win more votes unfairly, at the expense of others.

Daily Guide

Friday, August 1, 2008

GJA revises Election Guidelines

A draft Revised Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) Guidelines on Election Coverage to serve as an essential reminder for journalists and media houses during major elections was on Thursday presented to the GJA.

The revision of the Draft Guidelines has been developed as part of efforts by the GJA to improve the quality of media coverage of elections.

The document, sponsored by the French Embassy, was drafted by six eminent persons of the GJA and a senior official of the Electoral Commission.

They are Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, Acting Director, School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Mr Kwaku Rockson, Acting Rector, Ghana Institute of Journalism, Mr Bonnah Koomson, Senior Lecturer, School of Communication and Mr Cyril Acolatse, a veteran broadcast journalist.

The rest are Mr. Fritz Andoh, Managing Editor, The Standard Newspaper, Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, Editor, Ghanaian Times and Mr Kofi Arhin, Director of Elections, Electoral Commission. The draft highlights legal, professional and ethical issues intended to make the media or the journalist balanced, fair, accurate, reliable and timely in their reportage of political actives and treatment of issues and personalities.

The overriding objective is to enable the electorate to make informed and intelligent choices during elections.

"Sixteen years of our Fourth Republic has seen the Ghanaian media assert themselves in the promotion of free expression and generally in the protection of democratic values including the election. We believe the media's coverage has provided them with lessons that need to be taken account of in order to improve coverage, hence the revision," GJA President Ransford Tetteh said at the ceremony. He noted that elections were important because they sorted out the question of who should be entrusted with the lead management of the affairs of the state as well as constitute the source of legitimacy for political leadership in a democratic dispensation.

The revision of the guidelines, he said, was in line with its commitment, among other aims and objectives, to promote high professional standard, integrity and media accountability and regard it to be in consonance with the duty to promote good governance and social cohesion by members of the media.

He commended the French Embassy for the sponsorship of the review as well as publication and circulation of the document, adding that the draft was the first step in the process. A spokesperson of the committee, Ms Yeboah-Afari said what society expected from the media was to empower the masses and ensure that eligible voters participated in elections in a meaningful way and voted for the right candidate.

Madam Evelyn Decorps, Charg=E9 d'Affaires of the French Embassy, said she was pleased with freedom of expression in the country and noted that the GH¢15,000 sponsorship was the Embassy's contribution towards the elections and commended the group of eminent persons for a job well done.

"Men of God" vie for presidency"

Three pastors and an Alhaji have picked nominations forms from the New Vision Party (NVP) headquarters to vie for the party's flag-bearership at its August 23, 2008 congress.

They are Alhaji Danjima Siddique, a Tamale based businessman; Prophet Daniel Nkansah, the founder of the party and head pastor of the New Pentecost Vision Church, Accra; Bishop K. Boateng, the Head Pastor of the Impact Ministries International, and Rev. Andy Odai of the Christ Kingdom Mission, Accra.

The NVP, in June this year, received its final certificate from the Electoral Commission (EC) to operate as a political party.

The acting National Chairman of the party, Apostle Joel Aaron-King, said currently the party had opened nominations for parliamentary aspirants adding that the process was receiving very impressive patronage.

He added that prior to the congress, which would be held at Accra Academy to, among other things, elect a presidential aspirant for the 2008 elections and a national executive, interim national executive members were criss-crossing the country organising regional congresses.

He said the congress would also discuss the party's draft constitution, accept it and hold consultations on other issues relating to the growth of the party.

As of now the party has held regional congresses in the Greater Accra, Western, Central, Eastern and Ashanti regions.

According to Apostle Aaron-King, nominations for the presidential slot would be opened till a week to the congress to allow more Ghanaians who believed in the vision and philosophy of the party to contest.

He said some of the vetting criteria that people must satisfy before qualifying for the position of flag-bearer aspirant were that the aspirant must be God fearing, whether a Christian, a Muslim or a traditionalist, and must have good leadership qualities.

Apostle Aaron-King was confident that although the party was new on the political scene, it would win the 2008 elections.

Asked how the party would be able to win the elections, given its very little presence, he said, "We are not threatened by large and numerous billboards and rallies. Ammunition and chariots are prepared for battle but the battle is the Lord's."

He said the party hierarchy was working assiduously to put its structures in place, while at the same time campaigning at the various wards and in the constituencies.

Daily Graphic