Ghana: Political activities dominate Ghanaian media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Political activities dominated the Ghanaian media this week as the political atmosphere continues to heat up with tight general elections only about four months away.

President John Dramani Mahama’s eventful campaign tour of the stronghold of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), a chorus of condemnation of a key NPP financier for insulting the chairperson of the Electoral Commission, the commencement of the legal processes to switch the date for the elections from7 December to 7 November and the continuing legal battle over the voters’ register were some of the stories highlighted in the media.

“GAF worried about rising political temperature,” was the headline of the state-owned Graphic newspaper. The story said the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) had said they were ready to do whatever it would take to keep the country in one piece and not allow chaos to reign as Ghana prepares to go to the polls.

It said the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Air Marshall Michael Samson-Oje, expressing worry over what he described as the uncomfortable increasing political temperature ahead of the election at a media encounter in Accra, said the election would not descend into chaos.

The CDS said his observation of the political and security situation was partly informed by discussions in the mainstream media and social media.  

Air Marshall Samson-Oje said the military was in constant touch with the police hierarchy as the police engaged stakeholders on keeping the tension low.

He said the military would be the last resort should the security situation go beyond the strength of the police and other security services.

With the media accused of fuelling the tension that characterises the country’s elections, Air Marshal Samson-Oje observed that “if the media play their role effectively and efficiently, devoid of any political leanings, there will be peace in this country”.
NPP Member of Parliament, Kennedy Agyepong, described in the media as an NPP maverick and firebrand, was in the news throughout the week over his claim that the chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Charlotte Osei, got the job a year ago as sexual favour.

Various groups and individuals have condemned his comment, which they describe as debasing womanhood and asked him to apologise. But he refused and vowed that he had more say more. Unfortunately, his position has been supported by some members of the party, while the party has officially not reacted as yet.

“Kennedy Agyepong condemned for insulting comment,” was the headline of one of the stories published by the state-owned Graphic newspaper.

The Graphic said the Minister of Gender and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lither, called on Mr Agyepong to apologise to Mrs Osei, describing the comments as “regrettable”.

“Women of Ghana will not countenance such comments and personal attacks on women who have committed to serve Ghana in public office.

“You are in public office and should promote non-discrimination, respect for human dignity and gender equality by your comments and conduct,” she said.

A private legal practitioner, Ace Anan Ankomah, also condemned the MP’s comments and called on Ghanaians to speak against the development.

“I call on all Ghanaians to speak up and out against this and any other denigration of women. The African woman works against considerable odds to attain heights that men take for granted.

“It is not allowed for her to be denigrated in this manner, simply because a person disagrees with her. I call on political parties whose members make such comments to have the guts, spine and cojones to condemn such statements,” Mr Ankomah said.

The Graphic said the Foreign Affairs Minister, Madam Hanna Tetteh, is also livid over what she calls unsubstantiated allegations and sometimes “vicious personal attacks” targeted at Mrs Osei.

The Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Bar Association and Catholic Bishops’ Conference also criticised Mr Agyepong and asked him to apologise.

The Christian Council condemned the “vile attack” describing it as “repugnant, unwarranted and unsubstantiated”.

It asked politicians to campaign on issues and desist from unacceptable attacks on the persons of opponents and other well-meaning Ghanaians.

The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) condemned the comments and the MP saying such comments should not be made by a person who himself holds a high office as a Member of Parliament.

The lawyers described the comments a "distasteful, offensive, abusive and derogatory, not only to the Electoral Commissioner but women in general".

The Catholic Bishops also called on Mr Agyepong to apologise to Mrs Osei describing the comments as “distasteful, offensive and abusive”. They also asked Parliament and the leadership of the NPP to call him to order.

While President Mahama was on his campaign tour of the Ashanti Region, the stronghold of the opposition NPP, his convoy was pelted with stones in the regional capital, Kumasi. And the Catholic Bishops strongly condemned the perpetrators. The President’s vehicle was not hit but a parliamentary aspirant was hurt while her vehicle was also slightly damaged.  

Classfm, a radio station, said the Catholic Bishops described this as “shameful and despicable”

Two people were arrested on Wednesday by police for the act.

A statement issued by Most Rev Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Bishop of Konongo-Mampong and President of the Catholic Bishops, said that the stoning of the president’s convoy was “shocking and disbelieving” and “we…wish to condemn this act in no uncertain terms”.

“We cannot fathom why a group of Ghanaians will attack the convoy of the President in this manner and wish to call on the perpetrators of this act to be ashamed of themselves, repent of their sins and seek forgiveness from God.”

Meanwhile a bill to switch the date of the elections from 7 December to 7 November has been laid in parliament, The date is being moved forward to allow for enough time to conduct a runoff, in case a presidential election goes into a second round.

The Graphic’s story was under the headline “Bill to firm November polls before Parliament”.

The Bill will the 1992 Constitution to ensure that presidential and parliamentary elections are held on the first Monday of November of every election.

Known as Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the bill was read for the first time and referred to the Council of State for advice.
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02 july 2016 07:10:46

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