Ghana: Presidential debate, Mahama’s interview on corruption reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – This year's presidential debate and President John Dramani Mahama’s interview in London on corruption were some of the stories reported in Ghana this week.

Policy think-tank, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has organised about four presidential debates in Ghana and was hoping to organise this year’s debate without any competition. But that was until the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) entered the field to also organise a presidential debate thereby starting a war of words between them. The political parties have also expressed their displeasure at the manner in which the IEA made the announcement.

The state-owned Graphic newspaper in a story with the headline, “IEA presidential debate slated for September” reported that IEA announced this week that this year’s presidential and vice presidential debates have been slated for September and October for political parties with representation in Parliament.

The Graphic said a novelty in the IEA’s election programme for this year is the organisation of other debates for parties with no representation in Parliament. There will also be Evening Encounters with the presidential candidates and Town Hall Meetings with Members of Parliament (MPs).

But the programme was immediately criticised by the political parties for various reasons.

The Graphic in a story with the headline, “CPP, PNC threaten to withdraw from IEA debates if . . .” said  the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC) have expressed surprise and disappointment over the fact that no consultation was done by the IEA to arrive at the modalities for the debates.

They have cautioned that they would withdraw if no adequate consultations are done to arrive at the modalities governing the debates.

According to the two parties, the way and manner in which the IEA went about the launch of its presidential and vice-presidential debates programme on Tuesday took them by surprise.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times in its story with the headline, “IEA slammed over debate” reported that the IEA has been criticised for not doing proper consultation before launching the presidential debate.

It said the Director of Communication of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akomea, said his party was not consulted.

He said in as much as the debate has come to stay, an innovation by the institute to debate on a range of issues did not mean the IEA should impose things on the parties.

Nana Akomea said though the IEA has made an innovation in its programme, “it is not a requirement for the parties to buy its plans”.

The Deputy General Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. George Lawson, also said the opinion of the leadership of the party was not sought by the IEA before the announcement.

He said the IEA should have dialogued with the leadership of the parties to seek their opinions and see if the dates were convenient to them.

The presidential candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Papa Kwesi Nduom, also criticised the IEA for a “selective presidential debate”.

The IEA’s plan to hold a special debate solely for the two leading political parties (NDC and NPP) courted the displeasure of Nduom, who claimed the Institute’s new plan flies in the face of the political party’s law which kicks against all forms of discrimination.

He charged the Institute to create an equal playing field for all the political parties to engage the “imagination of Ghanaians”.

While all this was going on the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) also announced that it is ready to organise a presidential debate this year, a decision which appears to anger IEA.

The acting NCCE boss, Samuel Akuamoah, argued that this will afford political parties the opportunity to market their messages to the electorate and in turn take questions from them.

An Accra-based radio station Joy FM reported on its website that the NCCE’s decision did not sit well with the Executive Director of IEA, Jean Mensa, who questioned the resolve and independence of the government institution.

“I don’t believe that the NCCE has the capacity and the experience to engage in a presidential debate,” she said.

She believes the NCCE is better off concentrating on its core mandates such as educating “citizens on their civic responsibilities and duties” than wading into a terrain where it is not capable of performing well.

Mrs. Mensa said: “It’s a big challenge and a mandate that they have before them and ahead of them particularly in this election year.”

“Fight against corruption; It’s partnership of the willing — Mahama,” was the headline of the Graphic of the story on President Mahama’s interview in London.

The newspaper said President Mahama has stated that the fight against corruption is an uphill task which needs “a partnership of the willing” to be able to tackle.

Admitting that the nation had more work to do in battling the canker, he said all must come together in the fight.

In an interview on the sidelines of the UK Prime Minister’s Anti-corruption Summit in London, the President said corruption had become a major national issue because people were able to discuss it more freely. But he was quick to add that his approach to the fight had been phenomenal, compared to the past.

He said in the past people were asked to bring evidence before allegations of corruption were investigated but he had ensured that allegations of corruption were quickly investigated to bring the perpetrators to book.

Asked whether he had ever taken bribe, the President answered in the negative.

“I have not taken a bribe. Any human being would have encountered corruption in one way or another,” he said, adding that what was important was to be in a position to resist it.
-0- PANA MA 14May2016

14 may 2016 06:56:15

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