Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kofi Jumah sues Radio Gold, Raymond Archer, et al

A Former Mayor of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, Maxwell Kofi Jumah, has sued Radio Gold for what he says are false information they spread about him a day before last year's presidential election run-off.

Other respondents in the suit are Capital Radio in Kumasi, Deputy Information Minister, James Agyenim Boateng, who was Morning show host on Radio Gold at the time and the Managing Editor of the Enquirer newspaper, Raymond Archer.

The plaintiff who spoke on Peace FM, is claiming GH¢100,000 each from Radio Gold and Capital Radio and GH¢25,000 each from Archer and Boateng.

On the eve of the presidential run-off last year, the two radio stations were said to have broadcast audio tapes alleged to be recordings of a meeting addressed by the plaintiff at which he was allegedly planning to rig the election.

According to the broadcasts, the plaintiff promised huge sums of money to a group of young men who were supposed to carry out the operations to rig the poll.

He also allegedly assured the operatives of immunity from prosecution.

The meeting was said to have been held in the then campaign director of the New Patriotic Party, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey's house.

In attendance, according to the claims, was the Member of Parliament for New Juaben, Hackman Owusu Agyeman.

All the three persons named have denied any such meeting ever took place.

Nonetheless, the tapes which had Raymond Archer and Agyenim Boateng run extensive commentary on them, gained currency at the time.

Unhappy about the issue, Mr. Kofi Jumah who was alleged to have spearheaded the meeting says he has gone to court to seek redress for his damaged reputation.

When one of the defendants, James Agyenim Boateng was reached by Peace FM for comment, he said he had not been served any writ yet.

He would not speak to the authenticity of the tapes in question, arguing he would state his case in court if the case got there.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Electoral officers upgrade skills

Electoral Commission members and senior officials from election management bodies in West and Central Africa on Monday engaged in a specialised training programme designed to improve the skills, knowledge and confidence of election administrators.

The five-day workshop based on a capacity-building curriculum known as "the BRIDGE Project" (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) is being organised by the African Union and International IDEA.

Mr. Theophilus Dowetin, IDEA West Africa Programme Manager, expressed concern about the lack of a university awarding degree in election administration on the continent even though recent events in Africa remind us of how important credible elections are and that democracy requires the continuous building and strengthening its institutions and process.

He said: "Election management is the greatest logistics event any country may undertake in peace times; for elections to be free and fair and to produce a credible result the body organising the elections needs to have independence, integrity and professionalism.

"The BRIDGE training curriculum focuses on the professional development of election administrators – recognising that this is one of the essential ingredients for a successful election."

Mr Dowetin said the aim of the Accra BRIDGE "Professional Development Training (PDT) Course" includes providing a platform for analysing global trends, standards, principles, practices and processes in election management; build professional networks amongst practitioners; and enhance leadership competencies in sustainable election management

Mr William Williams, Australian High Commissioner in Ghana, said Australia was pleased to be associated with the professionalisation of election administration in the respective countries of participants.

About 21 election administrators from 11 Africa countries Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Togo- are attending the course with funding from the Australian Government.

Source: GNA

Media ownership by politicians threat to democracy

Prof. Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa has described as dangerous the situation where politicians were constantly owning media houses and throwing ethics and professionalism to the wind.

He said politicians were also using such media to persecute their political opponents.

Prof. Karikari who was sharing his thought during a symposium on "Reflecting on the first 100 days of Prof. Atta Mills's Presidency" organised by the Danquah Institute in Accra on Monday, called for urgent steps to pass the Broadcasting Bill to law to save the nation from drifting to a civil war similar to what happened in Rwanda.

He said the dangerous utterances of some radio presenters and leading members of some political parties on FM Stations during the 2008 elections could have slipped the country into the brink of a civil war.

He alleged that some of the personalities who perpetuated such dangerous acts on radio had been rewarded with ministerial appointments and described the December 7, 2008, till the day the final results were declared as "the worse time in the media in Ghana".

According to Prof. Karikari, the knee jerk reaction of the director-general of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to a complain by some activist of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) about the composition of panelists of a television programme had a semblance of censorship which should not be allowed to happen again.

He said another problem that the media in Ghana was facing was how to be critical without being partisan and how to be adversarial with decent language.

He added that those who have been able to achieve these virtues had made their mark as very objective and respected media houses in the country.

Mr Kweku Sakyi-Addo, a broadcast journalist expressed worry about a recent directive from the Ministry of Information urging all foreign media practitioners who wanted to film documentary of some parts of the country to seek clearance from the ministry ,and also show such films to the ministry before they could be broadcast in their home country.

He said the directive which was issued in March 2009 and withdrawn later was similar to another one issued in 1999.

He added that it was of no use because of the current information technology architecture, where even cellular phones could be used to film any part of the country and posted on the Internet for the whole world to view.

Mr Sakyi-Addo described the move as a kind of censorship "in a cottage industry within the Ministry of Information" and also could create room for some unscrupulous civil servants to extort money from some foreign media practitioners.

He suggested that just as countries with high crime and HIV / AIDS rate like South Africa and Nigeria had been able to tell the world about their best part, Ghana must also emulate such example and refrain from censoring foreign media.

Mr Raymond Archer, the Editor-in-Chief of The Enquirer, wondered why President J.E.A. Mills saddled himself with a lO0-day promise instead masking for a honeymoon to settle down properly.

He appealed to the media in Ghana to channel their pages and time on their airways to productive use and not to throw mud at each other in the profession.

Source: Daily Graphic

NPP damns NDC over 'revised election manifesto'

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has accused the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of surreptitiously revising its 2008 manifesto to evade the fulfillment of all its electoral promises.

The NPP believes the move is a deception and a fraud against the people of Ghana.

Addressing a press conference in Accra to officially review the government's 100 days, the Chairman of the party, Peter Mac Manu, said the government had shown it was weak and lacks ideas to develop the country.

According to him, the NDC had expunged the promises from the manifesto recognizing that it was incapable of delivering on them.

"In a show of mediocrity and lack of faith in its own abilities, the vision of taking Ghana to middle income status by 2015 has been shifted to 2020."

Mr. Mac Manu claimed that on page six of the original NDC manifesto, the NDC promised to motivate teachers by improving salaries, accommodation and retirement benefits.

"They said they were going to pay licensed teachers and professionals allowance of 15 per cent of the basic salary, pay technical and vocational teachers an additional 10 per cent of their basic salary and lastly, they said they were going to pay teachers in deprived areas an additional 20 per cent of their basic salary," he pointed out.

But in the revised manifesto, he contended, all the promises catalogued earlier have been taken out. "This is the deceit we are talking about."

The NPP Chairman also enumerated increases in prices of commodities, fuel price hikes and possible tariff increases in utilities and argued the government was simply incapable of dealing with the economic problems of the country.

He consequently called on the government to call a crisis meeting with economic experts within 21 days to discuss and find solutions to the debilitating economic challenges of the country.

He also called on all Ghanaians, regardless of their political persuasions, to help the government to fix the moribund economy of the country. "It is a duty we owe to our motherland."

Responding to the claims, Information Minister, Zita Okaikoi told Joy News the NDC had only one manifesto, as far as she knew.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Ghana: General election a lesson in democracy

Jean Mensa

On December 7, 2008, Ghana's Democracy was for the fifth successive time, put to the test. Eight million, two hundred thousand people went to the polls to elect a President and two hundred and thirty Parliamentarians to decide the political fate of Ghana for the next four years.


The stakes for this year's elections were high for a number of reasons. Firstly, the two largest Parties in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) having served two terms each, sought to break the deadlock to determine who the most dominant force was. Secondly, this was the third successive-and most likely the last time- that Professor John Atta Mills, the Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress was contesting the Presidential Elections. This election was therefore a make-or-break for him. Again, one of the smaller Parties, the Convention People's Party (CPP) seemed to have suddenly woken up from its long slumber with the selection of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom as its Flagbearer. The Party was therefore tipped to cause a major upset this year. Furthermore, this was also the first time in the Fourth Republic where neither a President nor his Vice was seeking re-election. Finally, for the first time, there were as many as eight Candidates contesting the Presidential Election –

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo-New Patriotic Party,
Dr. Edward Nasigrie Mahama –Peoples' National Convention
Prof. John Evans Atta Mills –National Democratic Congress
Mr. Emmanuel Asante Antwi- Democratic Freedom Party
Mr. T. N. Ward -Brew Democratic Peoples' Party
Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom-Convention Peoples'Party
Mr. Kwabena Adjei-Reformed Patriotic Democrats
Mr. Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah -Independent Candidate



The campaign period was an exciting one. The four Parties with representation in Parliament did all in their power to woo voters. There were songs, catch phrases like "we are moving forward (NPP), "Ye re Sesamu" literally meaning we are changing things (CPP), "Change you can trust (NDC), and "real change, real hope (PNC)"; dances, radio and television adverts and above all, well -prepared and thought -out Manifestoes to display.

The NPP campaign was by far the most attractive and the most media-intensive. The NDC on the other hand initially embarked on a modest house –to- house campaign, which was later augmented by a media-savvy campaign. Perhaps, the most impressive (considering their showing in the last twelve years) was the CPP whose slick media campaign and solid showing of their Presidential Candidate in 'The IEA Debates' (the Institute for Economic Affairs, the facilitator of the NIMD political party programme) gave hope of their emergence as a third force in Ghanaian politics. Their massive registration drive of the youth and grassroots approach made them attractive to many. The other five Parties did not embark on any visible campaign save rare PNC adverts and radio interviews mercifully granted to their representatives and the Presidential Aspirants.

The last day of campaigning saw the NPP and NDC holding mammoth rallies in Accra and Tema respectively. Apart from giving the Candidates a final chance to appeal to voters, the rallies were a show of political force. The NPP rally was covered live by all the television stations whilst the NDC rally was telecast after the event. They both generated huge support making it an impossible task to judge who had the bigger crowd.


Although voting was scheduled to commence at 7:00am, enthusiastic voters had formed queues at polling stations as early as 4:00am. Most poling stations recorded long queues throughout the day. This was a departure from the norm where polling stations are usually quiet between 12 noon and 3pm. In spite of the long queues, it turned out that 69% of voters turned up to vote. One reason attributed to the relatively low voter turn out was voter indifference. With the two main Parties having served two terms each without significantly improving the lot of the average Ghanaian, most voters felt it was worth their while to go and vote. Another reason that could be attributed is the allegation that the voter's register was bloated. If that assertion is true, then one could argue that the 31% of people who did not cast their votes were either minors, people who had registered more than once or ghost names. A less probable reason was that the sometimes confrontational language used by the two leading Parties scared some doves.

Another interesting trend was the number of rejected ballots which represented 2.4% of the total votes cast. This percentage is bigger than the combined percentage of votes cast for the CPP and PNC during the elections. A lack of voter education has been identified as a possible cause. Again, for the first time in Ghana's election, the index finger was dipped in indelible ink rather than marking the thumb which had been the norm in the four previous general elections. Most people, especially the unlettered, therefore voted with their index finger- rendering the votes invalid.



Several polls had been carried prior to the elections. The polls produced varied results with regards to the percentage of total votes each candidate was to receive. All of them, except that of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), put the NPP ahead of all the other Parties. One thing that was certain about all the polls was that no Party was going to win the elections in the first round.

The NPP was very confident of a first round victory and was disappointed when the total number of votes fell short of the more than 50% (at least 50% + 1) vote required for a first round victory. The NPP obtained 49.1% of the valid votes cast. While some had attributed this to complacency on the part of the NPP, voter apathy and the improper settling of disputes arising from the Party's primaries may have accounted for their inability to win a first round victory. Professor Mills of the NDC was also confident of a first round victory. He however managed to make 47.96% an improvement on the 44.63% he had obtained in 2004.

Declaration of Results

Ghanaians sat on tenterhooks until the Electoral Commission announced the results 69 hours after the polls closed. After an official announcement of a run-off, the two Parties are each psyching themselves and their supporters up for the second round of voting. They have both embarked on subtle and rigorous attempts to court the minority Parties. It is difficult to predict whose side the small Parties will go for, even though there are many personal and political interconnections between the Parties. For example, Dr. Nduom of the CPP was a long-time Cabinet Minister of the NPP and also worked with the NDC. The running mate of the NPP is also married to the daughter of the National Chairman of the PNC whilst they both supported the NPP in the 2001 Presidential run-off.

Parliamentary Results

The 2008 Parliamentary elections can be termed "the fall of the mighty". Many popular and long serving Parliamentarians of the four Parties with representation in Parliament have fallen victims to the massive wind of change that swept through the parliamentary elections. The NPP suffered the most casualties as their number of Parliamentarians dropped form 126 in 2006 to 107. The NDC on the other hand have made some gains as it increased its number of seats from 96 to 114. The CPP's promising campaign did not yield any gains for the Party with regards to Parliamentary seats. Their seats in Parliament were reduced from 3 to 1. A school of thought suggests that Ms. Samia Nkrumah, the CPP Candidate for the Jomoro Constituency won the seat because her father, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana and indeed a forerunner in the fight for Ghana's independence hails from the area. Therefore, the indigenes felt they owed it a duty to her father to throw their weight behind her. The PNC, who did not do much in terms of campaigning, lost two of its four seats they had won in 2004.

Among the casualties were Hon. Steven Asamoah Boateng, NPP MP for Mfansteman West constituency and Information Minister and Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, NPP MP for Nalerigu-Gambaga constituency and the Minister for Women and Children Affairs. Interestingly, Hajia Alima Mahama was one of the few people who had made the short list for the running mate position of the NPP. Within the NDC, Hon. Mahama Ayariga, spokesperson for the NDC Flagbearer and Hon. Ben Kunbuor, NDC MP for Lawra-Nandom were among the few who lost their seats. While the loss of some of these Parliamentarians could be attributed to the desire for change, voters also punished some for their failings. The lesson is for incumbents to be less complacent in the future and listen to their constituents and undertake relevant projects.

Women's Representation

The hope that many more women would be elected to Parliament in 2008 after Ghana signed onto several national and international conventions such as CEDAW and Beijing Platform was shattered when fewer women got elected than in the previous year. In the 1996 parliamentary elections, out of 59 women who contested, 18 (30%) were elected, constituting 9% of 200 MPs, in 2000, the number of female Candidates increased to 101 but the number elected was 19 (18.8%), constituting 9.5% of 200 MPs. In 2004, the number of women that contested was 104, including 14 sitting MPs, out of which 25 (24%) were elected constituting 10.9% of 230 MPs. The number in 2008 has been reduced to 15 constituting only 6.5% of the House.

The Political Parties as well as the Ghanaian society is equally to blame for paying lip service to the empowerment of women in Ghana. Even though the IEA organized Training Workshops for the Female Aspirants and drafted a Women's Manual which advocated the fielding of female Candidates in the Parties' strongholds, the Manual was not adopted till after the Party primaries which saw a good number of women losing their seats.

Prior to the elections, there had been speculations about the possibility of violence erupting during the elections. These speculations were triggered by violent incidents that were recorded during the limited registration exercise across the country and other incidents that had been recorded during the selection of Parliamentary Candidates within the Parties. Again, the post- election violence in Kenya and Zimbabwe put Ghana on the spotlight as many across the world wondered if Ghana's election would be lead to similar reactions as witnessed in Kenya and Zimbabwe. As a precautionary measure, several initiatives such as Peace Walks, Peace Songs and the broadcast of Peace Messages from distinguished citizens were organised to preach the message of peace across the length and breadth of Ghana.


Possibility of Violence

While it is the prayer of most Ghanaians that harmony would prevail, it is a little too soon to start celebrating. Polling day in Kenya was quiet. It was the refusal of either of the big Parties to accept defeat that sparked the violence. The closeness of the results is likely to make both Parties scramble feverishly for every vote to win the second round. This is where the trouble may occur. So far however, the peace has been maintained. It is the hope of The IEA that its numerous interventions at ensuring peaceful free and fair elections would suffice to keep the peace before, during and after the second round presidential Election on December 28th, 2008.

Again, during the first half of the year The IEA under the Ghana Political Parties Programme organised a workshop on the theme 'Towards a Peaceful and Violence Free Election 2008'. At the end of this workshop the Leaders of the Political parties signed a Communiqué pledging to abide by the Political Parties Code of Conduct. Among other things, the Leader's pledged not to on behalf of their respective Political Parties announce, declare or call the Election in their favour. They agreed that this was the duty of the Electoral Commission and no one had the authority to do so. This communiqué was widely circulated throughout the country and was discussed extensively by Media houses for well over a week.

The IEA Interventions

Another was the IEA sponsored Political Parties Code of Conduct which was reviewed in the first quarter of the year. The document and the communiqué that was signed by all the Political Parties were again widely circulated throughout the country. This put the document in the public domain. The general public and the Regional Enforcement Bodies that were set up after the publication of the Code have monitored the political Parties closely to ensure strict adherence to the Code. For the most part of the year, the Parties did their best to adhere to the Code of Conduct. All the reports from the regions reported no major breeches to the code. This monotony was however broken when serious breeches of the code were reported in Gushegu in Northern Ghana during the limited registration exercise held nationwide. This was quickly reported by the Regional Enforcement Body in Tamale and a press statement condemning all the Parties involved was issued. No major incidents were recorded afterwards.

The IEA 2008 Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates further contributed to restoring calm to the country. For the first time in Ghana's Political history, all Candidates of the four Political Parties with representation in Parliament participated. Held at a time when the political temperature had begun to steadily rise again, the Debates which were very civil in themselves carried on a calm atmosphere throughout the entire country. Perhaps, the most significant of all the Debates was the second Presidential Debate held in Tamale. Due to several violent clashes that had been recorded in the Northern Part of the country, during the year there was a lot of hesitation about hosting the debate in Tamale. However, the people of Tamale were poised to prove a point to Ghanaians. They were bent on ensuring that they were equally capable to hosting and indeed being part of an event that would contribute to the development of democracy in Ghana. More importantly, the people of Tamale proved to the rest of Ghana that politics could be used as a tool to unify people. Among the highlights of the Debate was during the final round when all the Candidates held hands and openly pledge to maintain the peace before, during and after the Election. This symbolic gesture has been captured and used by the state owned media which has nationwide coverage as an advertisement to promote peace.

The NCCE has also put up large billboards depicting the Presidential Candidates holding hands during the Tamale Presidential Debate. Indeed the Political parties involved particularly the ruling party as well as the largest opposition party have used captions from the Debate for their own advertisements. This display of friendship and camaraderie ensured and promoted peace before, during and after the Election. Indeed the British Broadcasting Corporation also in a documentary on Ghana, showed the Presidential Candidates at the Tamale Debate holding hands and pledging to maintain peace in the country. The British Broadcasting Corporation summed it up by saying that it was not in many countries around the world that this happens. Another was a letter from the regent of the Dagbon (the most powerful traditional ruler in Tamale) congratulating the IEA for doing the North proud by bringing the Presidential Debate there. The National Security Apparatus was at its best as it assisted in maintaining law and order during the Debates.

Trend analysis & interparty initiatives

The Institute is currently transcribing all the tapes of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates to document the promises made by the Candidates and put it out in the public domain so that the people of Ghana can hold the politicians accountable to their promises.

The IEA Governance Unit is also engaged in serious trend analysis of the Election results and will make its findings available in due course.

Finally, the various peace initiatives and inter-party collaborations of The Institute will continue in all their diversity to ensure that multi-partyism is the true winner of Ghana's Election 2008.

The IEA political programme has been implemented with the full support and cooperation of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ghana Elections : Minority leader seeks changes in electoral laws

The Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu says the country's electoral laws must be reviewed, especially the aspect on resolving disputes over election results.

He said the present provision that aggrieved persons can only challenge election results after the Electoral Commission has gazetted the results is unfair.

The minority leader was reacting to the increase in parliamentary seats by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The ruling party had 114 seats in the house until a Supreme Court verdict on the Asutifi-South constituency hurdle added another seat.

The court ruled in favour of Alhaji Collins Dauda who had petitioned it to overturn an earlier ruling by a Sunyani High Court.

The High Court had put an interlocutory injunction on the declaration of the parliamentary results in the constituency.

The application at the lower court was filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Mr Boakye-Yiadom Boateng.

But reacting to the issues in an interview with Joy News, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the current provision permits usurpers to rule.

He said it must be captured in the law a reasonable timeframe within which legal tussles over any election would be cleared before the EC declares the result.

"We certainly should give ourselves a timeframe to listen to final judgments," he stressed.

The minority leader also cited cases where electoral disputes have dragged for years.

He said such situations would always permit the wrong people to fill certain important positions.

The Supreme Court's ruling puts the majority's seats at 115 against the NPP's 107 in the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.

The two PNC members in the house also sit with and vote in favour of the Majority, further swelling the highest majority vote count possible to 117.

Pollster Ben Ephson has described the current membership in the house as safe for the ruling party.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ghana Elections 2008 : Collins Dauda wins Asutifi South seat

The National Democratic Congress (NDC), on Good Friday added to its parliamentary majority as its candidate, Collins Dauda, was declared winner of the Asutifi South parliamentary election by the Electoral Commission.

Dauda marginally won the disputed, polling just 14 more votes to beat his closest challenger, Mr Yiadom-Boakye Boateng of the New Patriotic Party.

Correspondent Asamoah Mensah of Sky FM who covered the ballot counting for Joy News said Collins Dauda polled 10,984 votes, while Boateng had 10,970 votes, with the Democratic People's Party's George Okyere coming a distant third.

The constituency election result had been outstanding following a High Court injunction sought by Yiadom-Boakye Boateng on grounds of massive election irregularities during voting on December 7, 2008.

The Supreme Court however overturned the High Court order restraining the Electoral Commission from declaring results of the Asutifi South parliamentary election on Wednesday, declaring that, results of election could only be challenged after declaration.

With the declaration, the NDC now has 115 Members of Parliament as against NPP's 107. There are four independent MPs, with two for the People's National Convention, and one for the Convention People's Party.

So far, Akwatia in the Kwaebirem District of the Eastern Region remains the only outstanding constituency yet to declare its results. The NDC and NPP are again in court over the conduct of the parliamentary election.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

NPP raises red flag over Jirapa ballot

The New Patriotic Party, NPP, has notified the Electoral Commission of a blot on ballot papers being used in the Jirapa bye-election.

According to the National Organiser of the party, Lord Commey, the blot looks like a thumb print positioned at the neck area of Dr. Francis Bawaana Dakurah, candidate for the ruling National Democratic Congress and could compromise results of the election.

Speaking in an interview with Joy FM correspondent Elton John Brobbey, Mr. Commey said a report has been made to officials of the Electoral Commission.

A senior member of the Commission, Dr. Safo Kantanka, he said, had been told of the anomaly and he has in turn, dispatched officials to work out a compromise so it does not undermine he poll.

Ruling out a complete withdrawal of the blotted ballot papers, Mr. Commey is hopeful the EC will reach a consensus with all the interested parties.

Meanwhile, there are reports of low turnout in the election set to replace Hon Edward Salia who died in February.

Residents of the constituency are said to be disinterested in the election.

Information vans from the Information Services Department are said to be driving through the constituency inviting constituents to come out to vote.

NPP's Mr Justin Dakorah and Ms Joycelin Ansiena for the Democratic People's Party (DPP) are the two other candidates optimistic of displacing the NDC from the seat.

Pollster Ben Ephson however predicts the NDC will retain the seat. It is only the margin of the victory that is in contention.

Voting underway at Jirapa bye-election

Voting is underway in the Jirapa Constituency of the Upper West Region where 43,056 registered voters are expected to elect a Member of Parliament in a bye-election according to myjoyonline.

Voting started at all 105 polling centres in the constituency at 7am, but according to Luv FM's Elton John Brobbey who spoke with Joy FM, turnout so far has been discouraging.

He said the people appeared to be disinterested in the exercise, attending to their daily chores and businesses.

The constituency lost its MP, Mr Edward Kojo Salia, former National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament who died in February this year.

Three contestants; Dr Francis Bawaana Dakurah for the NDC, Mr Justin Dakorah for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Ms Joycelin Ansiena for the Democratic People's Party (DPP).

On Sunday, the NDC held a well attended rally at Jirapa attended by the Founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings and Vice President John Dramani Mahama and some National Executive Officers.

Nana Ohene Ntow, General Secretary of NPP, and some leading members of the Party including some Members of Parliament were also in the constituency to whip up support for their candidate.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

UK High Commissioner applauds Ghana’s 2008 elections

The British High Commissioner, Dr Nicholas Westcott on Tuesday applauded the successful conduct of Election 2008 and described it as a "triumph for democracy" in the West Africa.

He pointed out that the matured and timely manner that the irregularities that arose during the exercise was addressed is commendable, saying Ghana did better and was quick in solving those issues than America did during its 2000 elections.

Dr Westcott who was delivering a public lecture at University of Cape Coast (UCC), on the topic 'Ghana and Britain: Parallel Histories, Converging Futures' saluted civil society organisations, particularly chiefs and the clergy for their advocacy roles that contributed to the successful conduct of the elections.

Dr Westcott gave the political history of the United Kingdom (UK) and pointed out that it had its fair share of "turbulence and instability" and it took it more than a century to stabilize and unite.

He noted that democratic development is a gradual process and therefore all emerging democracies should ensure the institution of the requisite structures including a judiciary, which has public confidence and a vibrant and liberal but responsible media.

He said the rigid enforcement of the rule of law and respect for individual rights both by the state and fellow citizens are all factors that ensure political stability and peace.

On the two countries, Dr Westcott said they both understand each other and share the same ideals and therefore there should be more co-operations between Ghana and the UK for mutual benefit, adding that, this is important especially in the face of the recent global financial crises of which both the rich and poor nations are now mutually dependent.

He said the co-operation will help share concerns of promoting peace keeping operations, combat drug trafficking as well as continue to fight the effects of climate change and encourage the link between UK universities and the UCC.

Dr Westcott announced that the UK will not only continue to support Ghana in terms of infrastructure, but will also invest in capital and create jobs in the country.

The Vice Chancellor of UCC, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman, who chaired the function said there was the need to dialogue on the past and link it with the current circumstance to bridge the future.

She said the UCC's public lectures have been designed to expand the scope of sharing ideas and reaching out to the diplomatic, educational, business, medical, judiciary and scientific fields, to partner and learn from their different perspective and emphasis.

During a public forum, both lecturers and students expressed disgust about the bitter experiences of colonialism that they said had contributed to the current poor state of African countries.

Source: GNA