Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Political parties review proposed Presidential Transitional Bill

     Registered political parties on Thursday met to review a proposed Presidential Transitional Bill, designed to establish arrangements for the political transfer of administration from one democratically-elected president to another.
     A 15-page Memorandum covering the 12-page draft bill noted that the transition from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government in 2001 was the first time in Ghana that political power was constitutionally transferred from one ruling party to another of a different political persuasion.
     It said due to lack of precedent, several mistakes were made that led to a polarisation of the country, adding that the lessons learnt from the 2001 transition were that there was need for thorough preparations for future transitions by agreeing on a multi-partisan framework and ground rules and regulations to govern and guide the process.
     The draft bill was initiated by the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and done by Mr. Justice V. C. R. A. C Crabbe, Commissioner for State Law Review at the Attorney-General's Office.
     Mr Paul Victor, a private consultant and Dr Arthur Kennedy, Communications Director of the Nana Akufo-Addo Campaign, prepared the initial papers that eventually led to the draft bill.
     Political party representatives attending a day's workshop to review the draft bill addressed themselves to the historical background of the draft bill to ensure that it was accurately captured and they also worked on the draft to make it concise and clear.
     Mr Obeng noted that it was necessary to ensure that the historical backdrop as stated in the memo to the draft bill was accurate "else we will proceed on a wrong footing."
     He said the rationale for seeking to make the final bill concise and clear was to cut out all the details that had the potential of inflaming passions rather than uniting the country.
     On the draft bill and its accompanying memo, participants raised questions bordering on the title of the bill, the relevance or otherwise of the transitional council, the rationale for putting the Chief Justice at the head of a transitional council and the constitutionality of the language of the draft bill.
     Some also had issues with the real reasons behind the current rancour between the two leading political parties, saying that other factors rather than the transitional process were responsible.
     Nana Ato Dadzie, Chief of Staff under the National Democratic Congress (NDC), noted that some of the reasons for the rancour were that the transitional period was too short, especially for the loser to have taken proper inventory and a meaningful handing over.
     He suggested that a permanent transitional administrative back-up office should be opened to take inventory of the entire period of a government to ensure proper handing over.
     Nana Dadzie also mentioned the breakdown in communication between the NDC and NPP following post-transition animosities as the cause for the rancour.
     "For instance this is the first time in eight years that I am seeing Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey since I handed over the Castle to him as Chief of Staff and that is a problem," he said.
    Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, former Chief of Staff during President Kufuor's first term, said the source of the rancour dated back to pre-election rather than post-transitional animosities.
    Mr Akoto Amapaw, a lawyer, said the language of the draft bill was not consistent with the constitutional language, saying that the constitution talked about "executive authority" and not administration so the language should be that of the transfer of executive authority and not administration.
     While Frances Essiam of the Democratic Freedom Party said putting the Chief Justice at the head of the Transitional Council compromised the CJ's insulated position.
    Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi, former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said the entire council should be abolished because its work had been sufficiently taken care of in the 1992 Constitution.

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