Ghana: May Day, politics dominate Ghanaian media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Last Sunday’s May Day celebrations and political developments, especially the ongoing update of the voters’ register, dominated the media in Ghana this week.

President John Dramani Mahama last Sunday addressed the national May Day rally at Wa in the Upper West Region with his speech mainly touching on economic challenges as workers’ placards emphasised those were their biggest concerns. And with general elections due in November this year, the President needed to explain issues to the satisfaction of the population.

“Economy to grow,” was the headline of the state-owned Graphic newspaper which said that President Mahama painted a bright future for Ghana’s economy, saying projections by respected international bodies, including the World Bank, indicated that the local economy would "grow in leaps and bounds".

He said the projection of a sound economy was predicated on the hard choices that the government had made in repositioning the economy.

President Mahama said the government remained committed to creating the enabling environment that would ensure that businesses thrived to sustain current employment levels and generate even more jobs for the youth.

The theme for the celebration was: "Election 2016: The role of workers in securing peaceful elections for national development."

On concerns raised by the leadership of organised labour that the government would privatise the state-owned Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), President Mahama said the government had no intention of privatising the company.

The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, had cautioned the government against the "intended privatisation of the ECG", insisting that it "will be a landmark privatisation whose consequences can be catastrophic".

He said the high cost of electricity was one of the leading causes of the rising cost of living in the country and warned that the situation could be worse if the ECG "is handed to the profit-motivated private sector".

The headline of the state-owned Ghanaian Times on the May Day celebration was, “It shall be well – President.”

The newspaper reported that President Mahama assured the nation that as a result of the structural reforms being carried out, the economy was expected to grow in leaps and bounds in the coming years.

That, he said, was achieved through “our collective effort and sacrifice”, adding that the benefit of this economic rejuvenation would therefore be shared gains to the benefit of all.

The President explained that much had been done at the energy front to ensure constant supply. He recalled that a year ago, the country was experiencing a shortfall in power supply but today, the situation has improved dramatically and government is not only working to secure a strategic reserve margin to ensure prompt, adequate and frequent power supply, but also diversifying the sources of fuel for power generation.

“NDP endorses Nana Konadu as flag bearer,” was the headline of the Graphic on former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings being endorsed by delegates of her party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), which she formed after breaking away from her husband’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The newspaper said Mrs Rawlings on Saturday received an overwhelming endorsement to lead the NDP into the 2016 elections as the party’s flag bearer.

In a speech, Nana Konadu said progressive leadership entailed reclaiming the meaning of true citizens’ democracy where there was equity in governance participation and national development.

Former President Jerry John Rawlings, who was at the function, urged political parties to preach unity to signify that multiparty democracy had come of age in the country. He explained that the parties ought to demonstrate that they had matured by eschewing divisiveness, animosity, tribalism and acrimony.

The newspapers also focused on the arrest of Bernard Antwi-Bosiako, chairman of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) in its stronghold of Ashanti Region, for assaulting Mr Collins Owusu Amankwah, the party's MP for Manhyia North in Kumasi, and the Constituency Secretary, Mr Felix Ibrahim, during the ongoing registration exercise to update the voters’ roll.

The Graphic reported that there was a chaotic scene at the Regional Police Headquarters in Kumasi, Ashanti Regional capital, where party supporters massed up in protest against the arrest of Antwi-Bosiako, popularly called Chairman Wontumi. It said a team of heavily armed policemen whisked the suspect to a Magistrate Court where he was granted bail.

The Graphic, in a story with the headline “Wontumi granted bail,” reported that the two complainants in the alleged assault complaint brought against Antwi-Bosiako, had withdrawn the case for it to be settled out of court.

The newspapers also highlighted Thursday’s ruling of the Supreme Court on a suit filed by two opposition members asking for a new voters’ register, among other things.

The Ghanaian Times reported in a story under the headline, “Clean the voters’ register, Supreme Court orders EC” that the Supreme Court had directed the Electoral Commission (EC) to make available a credible and acceptable register of voters for a peaceful conduct of the 7 November general elections by cleaning the existing register which contains names of the deceased and minors.

This ruling does not necessarily call for the compilation of a new voters’ register in a build-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections, the newspaper said.

On the use of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards for the registration, the Times reported that the Supreme Court said there was a law in place which regulated the use of NHIS cards at the time of the registration.

The newspaper said the apex court, however, ordered that all the ineligible voters whose names would be deleted from the register be given the opportunity to register and not be disenfranchised.

The Supreme Court also dismissed the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs, Mr Abu Ramadan and Mr Evans Nimako, which asked the court to set aside the current register and compel the EC to compile a fresh register of voters before the conduct of any new public election or ordering the commission to audit the register through the validation of the registration of each person in the register.

The Graphic on line reported in a story with the headline “Supreme Court disqualifies NHIS voters” that the Supreme Court had directed the EC to clean the voters’ register by deleting the names of persons who were registered unconstitutionally in 2012.

This means all persons who registered to take part in the 2012 elections with NHIS cards will have their names deleted. Also to be deleted from the register are the names of deceased persons and minors. The Court, in a unanimous decision, however, gave the chance to those who will be disenfranchised due to the new directive to re-register.

The newspaper said the court declined to declare the current voters register void and unconstitutional.
-0- PANA MA/AR 7May2016

07 may 2016 07:49:47




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