Ghana’s election as redemption for West Africa

Some voters casting their ballots during the recent elections
Some voters casting their ballots during the recent elections

When Ghana’s next President emerges whoever he is he will have earned the right to consider himself the representative of hope for the growth of genuine democracy throughout the West African sub-region. Apart from the circumspect and efficient manner in which most observers report that the first polls were conducted the preparations for a second contest to decide the eventual winner have been equally praised as demonstrating exemplary maturity and respect for the tradition of fairness and equity in political contest. Coming at the same time when the result of Nigeria’s last Presidential race has had to be settled by a closely divided Supreme Court judgement and when Guinea’s sit tight President Conteh has succumbed to illness while clinging on to power desperately the outcome of the Ghanaian run-off is being eagerly awaited not only by Ghanaians but also by all West Africans.

A successful outcome will reinforce the verdict of the cosmopolitan network of election observers who have pronounced the recent exercise as instructive for similar exercises in the sub-region in the future. Among those making this pronouncement the verdict of the ECOWAS Observer Mission is particularly important. The leader of that Mission is Nigeria’s former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon who was removed from office by members of his own army who accused him among other things of failing to live up to a promise to hand power back to civilians in 1973. In a subsequent development when General Gowon returned to Nigeria after being in exile for several years he sought to run for the Presidency but was denied the selection of his party right from the ward level. In spite of this seeming humiliation General Gowon has since redeemed his own reputation with a vocal and visible commitment to the principles of democratic discourse and electoral probity. His choice as the head of the ECOWAS Mission was most appropriate especially when it is remembered that he was indeed one of the founders of the sub-regional body.

Although Gowon’s successor in office Murtala Muhammed was assassinated he had established a clear and irrevocable transition programme as a part of his legacy before he died. This was carried out to the letter by the administration led by General Obasanjo. The members of the Obasanjo military administration were members of the Murtala Administration who believed in the sacrosanct nature of his promise to hand over and felt bound by it. The syndrome of reluctance to hand over power which came to be associated with the Nigerian military in government at a later stage was therefore a violation of that tradition.

Gowon’s leadership of the ECOWAS Observer Mission and their efficient and comprehensive report on the conduct of the first phase of the 2008 elections in that country has reverberated throughout the sub-region. They delineated the preparations and the conduct of the elections and defined those practices that they consider worthy of emulation by other countries as “best practices”. They listed these and defined the consequences as well as the background of these practices in clear and unequivocal language and made their recommendations without compromise. It will serve the interest of clarity if we quote just one of such recommendations from the preliminary report of the Mission.

“The Mission took positive note of the provisions in the Ghana electoral law with regard to early voting and proxy voting, a practice which could be replicated in the ECOWAS region.” After describing the nature of these provisions the Mission also commended the Ghana Election Commission for ensuring that hardly anyone was disenfranchised. It then made some very important observations about the conduct of the electorate and its composition noting that there was a very high turnout of voters with people queuing from as early as four a.m. in some places. It also stated that, “The composition of the electorate was diverse and included a remarkable turnout of women and the youth; the aged and the physically challenged. The voting population was predominantly youthful, with a high number of first time voters.” The clarity and credibility of the Mission’s observations throughout the report justified Dr. Mohammed ibn Chambas the ECOWAS Commission President’s confidence in their integrity as a group.

One of the members of the Mission was a former Interim President of Liberia Dr. Amos Sawyer whose commitment to the establishment of a democratic tradition in the sub-region has been irreversible. He was once the Chairman of a Constitutional Review Conference that established impeccable guidelines for democratic elections and proper political representation for the people in his own country. At the time Master Sergeant Doe who was the Head of State did not wish to honour the commitments that were enshrined the resolutions of that conference and Dr. Sawyer was forced to go into exile eventually. When he served as Interim President he tried his best to instill the idea of democratic accountability in the conduct of government as well as to broker a meaningful reform of the selection process. Eventually he stepped down rather than struggle to hold on to power even though many observers felt that the time was not ripe for the hand over.

Subsequent events tended to vindicate this view but Dr. Sawyer’s conscience must have been clear since he held to his principles when he could have abandoned them and kept power for himself. The process of democratic exchange and reform in Liberia has been strengthened by his example and it is well known that during the last Presidential elections in Liberia he played a discreet but seminal role in ensuring that Ellen Sirleaf Johnson’s historic victory was consummated. In this role he was an honest broker rather than a manipulator of electoral favours and that Liberian election is one of West Africa’s finest democratic moments so far. These Ghanaian elections now appear to be headed towards similar success and historical relevance as a redeeming factor in the story of the struggle for democratic credibility and popular electoral contest throughout the sub-region.

That the rest of West Africa should draw important lessons for its democratic future from the experiences of Liberia and Ghana is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Liberia still lays claim to being the oldest republic in Africa even though the flaws of its own journey to modern nationhood are well known. Ghana was the first nation in black Africa to gain independence from colonial rule in modern times and its promise while having been aborted by military intervention has been strengthened and renewed by its economic revival as well as its display of political maturity over the last ten years or so. It has absorbed a traumatic upheaval that involved the assassination of prominent personalities and former leaders as well as an economic downturn that caused Ghanaians to be dispersed throughout the sub-region as refugees for many years.

Ghanaian refugees earned a reputation throughout West Africa as vital and competent contributors to any society in which they sojourned especially as teachers and skilled workers. Here in Nigeria those of us who were aware of their presence in the late 60s through to the early 80s and the traumatic “Ghana Must Go” must go aberration that Muhammadu Buhari, one of our military leaders, perpetuated will not be surprised at the findings of the ECOWAS Observer Mission. We know that seriousness of purpose and dedication to African progress is second nature to most Ghanaians. They cannot help it. Ghana’s founding father Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah instilled that value system in the lifeblood of even those who opposed him. It is also interesting to note that the present (and first) President of the ECOWAS Commission Dr. ibn Chambas is Ghanaian himself and is widely regarded in that country as a dedicated public servant who believes in sub-regional unity. It is not by accident that he has presided over the establishment and sustenance of the Observer Mission that has given such a ringing endorsement to the success of Ghana’s elections this time around.

Credit: Lindsay Barret

Source: Sun News

Cancer Society of Ghana donates to Four Hospitals on Christmas Day

Accra, Dec. 25, GNA – The Cancer Society of Ghana on Thursday donated Christmas gifts and other food items to children in four hospitals.
Hospitals that benefited from the donation are the Ridge Hospital, the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, the Princess Marie Louise Hospital (Children’s hospital) and the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
The donation is an annual event done by the Cancer Society in partnership with AfrOx, a United Kingdom based organization that advocates prevention and eradication of all forms of cancer.
This year the Society invited Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Wife of the NPP Presidential candidate to give the presents out on their behalf.
Mrs Akufo-Addo also added bags of rice and sugar, boxes of soap, disinfectants, plastic buckets, plates and cups as her personal contribution to the donation.
She said she was happy to give out gifts to children in hospitals because Christmas is a time when families needED to be together.
“Unfortunately these children find themselves in hospital and we must all help put smiles on their faces.”
Mrs Akufo-Addo used the occasion to wish all Ghanaians to Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Rev. Fr. Victor Sackey, Executive Secretary of the Cancer Society of Ghana, said the organization formed five years ago aims at advocating for the prevention and eradication of cancer.
He said the annual donation is made possible because every year AfrOx appealed to students at Oxford in the United Kingdom to donate items to Ghanaian children, especially those who are sick.
“The students pack various presents into boxes and send them to Ghana to be given to children in hospitals on Christmas day.”
Rev. Fr. Sackey said, this year AfrOx sent over 400 shoeboxes stuffed with different items ranging from toys to shoes and dresses for children of all ages.
Dr Lorna Renner, Acting Head of Child Health Department at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital expressing her gratitude for the gesture also expressed hope that Ghanaians, especially children would have access to improved health service in the country in the coming year.
GNA

Abokobi drivers honour dedicated workers

Accra, Dec. 25, GNA – The Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Alhaji Essah Tetteh has cautioned drivers to be very careful during the Christmas and New Year Season  and try to save lives on the road.
Alhaji Tetteh was speaking during a get-together organized for both the Abokobi GPRTU Local and Branch Drivers’ Unions held at the Oyarifa Presby Junior High School, near Accra, to reward their dedicated staff.
He reminded both taxi and trotro drivers who used cell phone while driving to refrain from this act since it reduced their concentration and consequently resulted in fatalities.
Those honoured included Mr Ernest Akweso Kwablah, who received a wrist watch and was adjudged the best trotro driver at the Branch Union level in Abokobi.
Mr Addo Addotey was adjudged the most obedient driver who was courteous to his customers. He received a wall clock.
The most consistent, reliable and committed driver was Mr Komlavi Mawuenyegah who received a wrist watch.
In an address the Accra North-East MTTU Divisional Police Commander, Assistant Superintendent of Police James Owusu-Mensah, said the Unit was doing all it could to decongest the city to allow free flow of traffic.
He said their efforts were often hampered by some indisciplined drivers who, either through ignorance or intentionally continued to create problems for the Police MTTU.  He told the drivers to comport themselves during the impeding run-off election and not to create confusion.
Chief Inspector Comfort Forkah, Head of the Madina Police MTTU Monitoring and Evaluation Training Unit, advised the drivers to carry out their pre-driving inspections before they moved their vehicles.
They should check their traffic indicators/headlights, breaks, seat belts, water in the radiator and this will enable them have a safe journey.
She cautioned the drivers to check their speed limits when they were approaching villages and towns to avoid knocking down pedestrians. She warned that drivers found to be drunk would be prosecuted.
GNA
TMA/REA
24 Dec. 08

NSOC 11
Social Bishop Border
Border closures weaken national unity- Lodonu

Ho, Dec. 25, GNA-Right Reverend Francis Anani Lodonu, Bishop of the Ho Diocese of the Catholic Church on Wednesday said the selective closure of borders in Ghana for supposed security reasons could weaken national unity.
He said closing Ghana’s eastern borders alone during elections makes the people of the Volta Region for example feel excluded from the rest of Ghana.
Bishop Lodonu who was delivering a sermon at a mass to mark Christmas at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ho suggested that, “if borders have to be sealed then it should be all”.
Government closed the country’s borders to Togo just before the December 7 general elections, raising criticism from Chiefs in the Volta Region, who said that decision was discriminatory.
“I fully concur with them. If you close only borders leading to Togo which borders mainly the Volta Region, you make the people there feel like strangers,” Bishop Lodonu stated.
He advised the winning side in the December 28 presidential runoff to go easy on celebrations to avoid brushing the sensibilities of the defeated side.
Bishop Lodonu also advised the side that would be beaten to accept defeat, saying just as Jesus Christ accepted defeat, was crucified but rose the third day to claim victory, that party would also win one day.
GNA

Daddy Lumba supports malaria eradication campaign

Accra, Dec. 25, GNA—Charles Kwadwo Ofosu, a prominent Ghanaian musician based in Germany, has called on African leaders to include malaria eradication programmes in their policies to enable the continent to fight the disease to ensure its total eradication.
He said the disease could be eradicated completely only when leaders develop a policy framework for their respective countries and also take active interest in its eradication campaigns.
Kwadwo Ofosu affectionately called ‘Daddy Lumba’ made the call when a delegation of Add Your Voice Now, a Non-Governmental Organization championing the cause of malaria eradication in Africa called on him.
He said, if preventive measures were not taken early enough, the disease would ruin the future leaders of the continent.
The musician appealed to pregnant women to take preventive measures to save their unborn babies from the disease.
Mr Kwabena Osei Bonsu, Chief Executive Officer of  Add Your Voice Now, who led the delegation said the campaign under the theme; ‘Kick Malaria Out of Africa Dot Com.,’  started about a year ago was yielding a positive results.
He said the NGO was going to team up with Kayayei (female load carriers) in their advertisement programmes which would kick off soon in Accra.
Mr Osei Bonsu took the opportunity to thank Ghanaians for exercising their franchise in a peaceful manner on December 7 and expressed the hope that the same level would be maintained in future elections.
GNA

Christians celebrate Christmas with church services

Kumasi, Dec 25, GNA- The Right Reverend Prof Emmanuel Asante, Bishop of the Kumasi Diocese of the Methodist Church, has stressed the need for Ghanaians to unite and live in peace and harmony to ensure the development of the nation.
He noted that the masses should avoid intra ethnic conflicts, cheating, bribery and corruption, nepotism and other negative tendencies that impeded development efforts.
Prof Asante was delivering a sermon to mark the Christmas day at the Wesley Cathedral at Adum in Kumasi on Thursday.
He said the birth of Christ was significant since it paved the way for mankind to be saved from their sins.
He asked Christians to be steadfast in propagating the gospel to win more souls for Christ.
The Bishop urged stakeholders in the nation’s development to commit resources towards sensitizing Ghanaians to be law-abiding in their endeavours to ensure increases in productivity in all sectors of the economy.
Preaching at the Saint Peters Cathedral Basilica, the Most Reverend Thomas Kwaku Mensah, Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Kumasi, urged Ghanaians to let the peace that comes with the Yuletide to be strengthened as the nation prepares for the presidential run-off.
He said Ghana has been recognized as the beacon of hope in democratic dispensation and good governance on the African continent, and that the citizenry should be committed to uphold good neighbourliness for the sustenance of peace.
The Archbishop appealed to Christians to tolerate the views of others and work together towards the development of the nation.
In a related development, the Reverend Otuo Acheampong, Chairperson of the Asante Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, in a sermon at the Ramseyer Presbyterian Church at Adum in Kumasi, noted that the high rate of indiscipline among the youth should be a matter of concern to well meaning Ghanaians.
“The continuous engagements of the youth in armed –robbery, prostitution, drug abuse and trafficking could erode the socio-economic gains made over the years,” he stated and cautioned that the earlier solutions were found in addressing the problem, the better since the youth were the backbone of the economy.
Reverend Acheampong charged members of the church to abide by the doctrines and tenets of Presbyterianism to enhance the growth and image of the church.
Preaching at the Peyer Memorial Presbyterian Church at Bantama in Kumasi, the Reverend Peter Kofi Nyarkoh, the District Minister, indicated that as the nation prepares for a new year it was incumbent upon the masses to shun provocative statements that could result in conflicts and violence.
He said political leaders should review their political message to create a peaceful atmosphere that would help to shepherd Ghana to a civil society of hope and joy.
The Reverend John Kwabena Boachie, Minister in-charge of the Gospel Centre Assemblies of God at Old Tafo in Kumasi, in a sermon, said the birth of Christ should serve as a period for reconciliation, tolerance and forgiveness among the people.
He noted that as result of this it behoved the people to eschew all forms of negative tendencies for accelerated development of the nation.
In a related development, the Reverend Father John Bilson-Ogoe, Assistant Parish Priest at the Saint Paul’s Catholic Church at Amakom in Kumasi, reminded Christians to use the occasion to take stock of their activities and adopt new strategies to improve on their performances.
He admonished them to emulate the leadership qualities of the Virgin Mary by upholding Biblical virtues to help straighten the rough edges of their lives.
At the Grace Baptist Church at Amakom in Kumasi, the Reverend Dr Kojo Osei-Wusu, the Senior Pastor, stressed the need for the citizenry to love one another just as Jesus Christ demonstrated love to the sinner.
He said they should turn up in their numbers and vote massively in the Presidential run-off so as to exercise their franchise, adding that, it behoved Ghanaians to work hard in ensuring that, their political differences did not divide them.
GNA

Farmer murdered at Kuano

Suhum, Dec. 25, GNA – The Suhum Police are investigating circumstances surrounding the murder of a 49-year-old farmer, Richard Akornotey, who was found lying dead in a pool of blood at the entrance of his room at Kuano near Suhum at the week-end.
A police source told the Ghana News Agency that the deceased apart from his farming activities owns a drinking spot.
The source said before he was murdered, his drinking spot was burnt down adding that the deceased was believed to have been murdered in a nearby cocoa farm and later dragged into his room.
Meanwhile the body of the deceased has been deposited at the Suhum Government Hospital mortuary pending autopsy.
GNA

West African Journalists condemned military takeover in Guinea

Accra, Dec 25, GNA – The West Africa Network of Journalists for Security and Development (WAJSD) on Thursday condemned the illegal seizure of power by the military in Guinea and called for social resistance against the action.
The WAJSD urged journalists in Guinea to immediately blackout the military and launch a relentless media war against the soldiers; “the military must be told to respect and adhere to democratic principle… military intervention in the democratic order is outdated in the Sub-Region,” Mr Francis Ameyibor, WAJSD Deputy General Secretary, stated in a statement in Accra.
Mr Ameyibor said: “The illegal takeover of power constitutes a blatant violation of the Constitution of Guinea and is in contravention of the Lome Declaration of July 2000, the Constitutive Act of the AU and the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance.”
The WAJSD Deputy General Secretary also called on the military to respect the tenets of constitutional democracy to ensure a peaceful transition with a view to quickly holding free and transparent elections.
Mr Ameyibor also commended the international community for expressing their disgust about the takeover, but challenged the Sub-Regional body ECOWAS, and African Union (AU) to move in immediately to restore law and order in Guinea.
Hours after the announcement of the death of Guinean President Lansana Conte by the Guinean government on Monday, December, 22 a self-claimed National Council for Democracy and Development led by Captain Moussa Camara said on radio that it had dissolved the government and suspended the constitution.
In a related development, the West African Action Network on Small Arms and Light Weapons (WAANSA) called for sobriety in Guinea, following the death of the President and the subsequent coup.
Mr Baffour Dokyi Amoa, WAANSA President, in an interview with Ghana News Agency in Accra expressed the hope that the Guinean constitution would be respected.
He said: “A change of power by force is unacceptable. As is known, this is also the position of the international community, including the African Union. Such anti-constitutional actions deserve condemnation.”
He urged the illegitimate military Leadership, which has pledged to hold democratic presidential elections within two years, to handover immediately and give the Guineans an opportunity to continue its stable development within the bounds of the Constitution and in the interest of all sections of the Guinean society.
GNA
DA/BDB
25 Dec. 08

NPOL 07
Politics Election Observers
Pan-African Parliament election observers arrive

Accra, Dec. 25, GNA – Pan-African Parliament Election Observers have arrived in Ghana for the Presidential Election Runoff scheduled for Sunday December 28 2008.
The 21-man team, headed by Janguo Athumani Saidi, Chairperson of the Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, National Resources and Environment, is in the country at the invitation of the Electoral Commission (EC).
The mission was deployed in Ghana during the December 7 elections.
Mr Athumani Saidi told the media in Accra on Thursday that while in Ghana the observers would be briefed and addressed by the Ghanaian Electoral stakeholders.
They would be deployed to all the 10 regions on Friday, December 26 where they would meet with electoral stakeholders including electoral officials, civil society organizations and representatives of political parties and the media.
Members of the mission would observe voting and counting at polling stations and return to Accra on December 29, 2008 to attend a debriefing session and to assess the electoral process.
The mission would deliver an interim assessment statement at a press conference on December 30, and its members would begin to depart for their various countries on December 31 2008.
Mr Athumani Saidi said the Pan-African Parliament would continue to monitor the process until the finalization of the election results, after which the mission would present its final report and final assessment of the Ghana’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
GNA

NDC has 114 seats in Parliament – Mills

Prestea (W/R), Dec. 25, GNA – The National Democratic Congress (NDC) already has 114 seats in Parliament out of 228 certified results issued by the Electoral Commission (EC) with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) losing its parliamentary majority with 107 seats.
The NDC increased its parliamentary seats by 20 from 94 to 114 seats while NPP lost 21 seats, moving down to 107 seats from 128 seats, showing that Ghanaians were fed up with NPP and wanted a change, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Presidential Candidate of NDC, told a rally at Tarkwa on Wednesday.
He said the ‘elephant’ was already out of government and was heading towards the bush and all that Ghanaians needed to do was to turn out in their numbers on Sunday to vote for him to form a new Government that would offer opportunities to all Ghanaians and not only to a section of the population.
Prof Mills urged the government to investigate the alleged “hit list” saga and come out with the truth, saying that human life was too precious to be sacrificed on the altar of politics.
He promised to resolve the problem of small-scale miners, popularly called Galamsey Operators, and said he would expand the School Feeding Programme to cover all schoolchildren in the country, adding that he would make the National Health Insurance Scheme more affordable.
Prof. Mills, who is on a campaign tour of the Western Region, made whistle-stops at Wassa Dawurapong, Himan and Bawdie before proceeding to Asankragua.
GNA

Two cocoa spraying gangs charged for stealing insecticides

Suhum, Dec. 25, GNA – Two members of the mass cocoa spraying gang at Adakwa in the Suhum Kraboa Coaltar District were on Wednesday arraigned before the Suhum Magistrate’s Court for stealing a quantity of confider insecticide meant for spraying cocoa farms in the area.
The accused persons, Kwame Larbi and Kwame Ayisi, pleaded not guilty and were granted bail in the sum of two million Ghana cedis each with two sureties.
Detective Police Chief Inspector E. C. Okorey, prosecuting, told the court that Larbi and Ayisi were members of the mass cocoa spraying gang at Adakwa.
He said on October 26 this year, the two went to the local Chief Farmer, Opanin Jonas Tetteh, whose house the insecticide were being kept and asked him to give them the store key to enable them wash empty containers.
Mr Okorey said after washing the containers, Larbi and Ayisi managed to steal some of the items.
He said a witness in the case spotted them carrying the items away and confronted them, but the accused persons abandoned them and took to their heels.
They were later arrested at their hideout and charged with the offence.
GNA
CGO/DA
25 Dec. 08

NSOC 06
Social Court Stealing
Four stole money and buried it at cemetery

Suhum, Dec. 25, GNA – Four people who stole 4,000 Ghana Cedis belonging to a Cocoa Purchasing Clerk at Akim Asafo in the Eastern Region and later buried the cash at a Moslem Cemetery were arraigned before the Suhum Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
The accused persons, Seth Ansah, Kofi Akate, Lawrence Osei and Eric Cooma charged with stealing, pleaded not guilty and were remanded in police custody to re-appear on January 16 next year.
Police Chief Inspector Ben Nyonator, prosecuting, told the court that the accused persons and the complainant, Miss Edith Owusu Bimpong, a cocoa purchasing clerk live in the same town at Akim Asafo.
He said on November 6, this year, the complainant went to Akim Tafo to collect money to pay some farmers she bought cocoa from.
Inspector Nyonator said Ansah spotted the complainant coming down from a vehicle with the money and went to inform Akate who also informed the rest of the accused persons.
He said in the night while the complainant was fast asleep, Ansah and Akate went to her house while Osei and Cooma laid ambush.
Akate and Ansah later forced the door opened with cement blocks and stole the money including video camera and deck.
Inspector Nyonator said since it was night the accused persons could not share the booty and therefore went to bury the money in the Moslem cemetery at Akim Asafo.
He said when Ansah went to remove the money the following day, he was spotted by a witness in the case who reported to the police and he was arrested.
He also mentioned the rest of the accused persons, who were later arrested and charge with the offence.
GNA

Mills tells government to investigate “hit list”

Tarkwa (W/R) Dec. 25, GNA – Former Vice President John Evans Atta Mills, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Presidential Candidate, says under no circumstance would his government take the life of any Ghanaian because of politics.
He said life was the most precious thing the Creator has given to humanity and nobody would be sacrificed on the altar of politics since it was against God’s law and, therefore, charged the Government to investigate and come out with the truth concerning the “hit list”.
Former Vice President Mills, who was addressing a rally at Tarkwa on Wednesday, said he would rule Ghana with the truth, the fear of God and humility.
Prof. Mills said he would reduce further downwards the prices of petroleum products because of the negative effects high fuel prices had on the economy.
He promised to address the teachers’ problems; expand the National Youth Employment Programme, make the National Health Insurance Scheme more affordable and expand the School Feeding Programme to cover all schoolchildren and ensure that they are fed with nutritious meals and not maggot-infested beans and tin-tomatoes, whose shelf-life has expired.
Prof Mills pledge to resolve the problems of Galamsey operators so that they could go about their operations with harassment.
He said NDC had 114 seats in Parliament compared to 107 of the NPP, adding,   that the elephant was already out of government and was on its way back to the forest.
Prof Mills said some people have been lying about his health and even said he was dead, adding, “I am as fit as a fiddle”.
Nana Kwabena Obob, Deputy Western Regional Chairman of NDC, told polling station agents of NDC to be vigilant and not monetary inducement from the NPP functionaries and allow them to manipulate the polls.
Prof. Mills later went to Prestea, Wassa Dawurapong, Himan and Bawdie before proceeding to Asankragua, all in the Western Region.
GNA

Stop the violence – NDC tells Akufo-Addo

Koforidua, Dec. 25, GNA – The Eastern Regional Branch of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has urged Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to stop his supporters and people around him from the use of violence, intimidation and harassment of political opponents.
Speaking at a press conference in Koforidua, the Regional Chairman of the NDC, Mr Julius Debrah said currently in the Abuakwa South Constituency and in Kyebi in particular, supporters of the NDC were constantly being harassed and provoked for no apparent reasons.
He said in some cases traditional authorities had begun threatening parents and family heads to pressurize their family members who were NDC activists to stop their house-to-house campaigns in the constituency.
Mr Debrah called on the people of the Eastern Region to reject the shameful attempts being made by the NPP and Nana Akufo-Addo to buy their votes and to vote massively against the party and its presidential candidate.
Mr Tawiah Boateng, Regional Organizer of the party, said due to harassment,  it was becoming difficult for members of the NDC in the Abuakwa South constituency and the Kyebi area in particular to hold normal meetings since they were being followed and even people, who gave their premises to be used for  meetings were being threatened.
He said NDC miniature flags displayed and posters of the party at Kyebi were often destroyed or removed apparently because they think Nana Akufo-Addo hails from the area so no political party should campaign there.
Mr Boateng said the threats and harassment of NDC activists had been extended to other Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Areas and all of a sudden party agents of the party were refusing to protect the interest of the party on the polling day because of threats made against them.
He, therefore, appealed to the Regional Security Election Taskforce to take the necessary measures to protect NDC functionaries at Kyebi and to ensure that all political parties were given a level playing field to market their candidate to enable Ghanaians to make their decision from a well-informed position on December 28.
GNA
Akwatia electorate assured of security during presidential runoff

Koforidua, Dec. 25, GNA – The Eastern Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) George Anko-Bil said elaborate security measures have been initiated to prevent the recurrence of confusion that erupted in the Akwatia constituency during the December 7 elections.
He gave the assurance that the security agencies would be on the alert to maintain law and order to ensure a peaceful runoff on December 28.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Koforidua on Wednesday, DCOP Anko-Bil asked residents of the constituency not to be scared by any heavy police presence in the area during the polls once they went about their activities lawfully.
There was confusion in the Akwatia constituency, allegedly perpetrated by supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during the December 7 elections.
The Electoral Commission (EC) decided to reorganize the polls at six polling stations where elections were disrupted but a court injunction has been placed on any move by the EC.
GNA
CGO/CO/BDB
25 Dec. 08

Attention recipients, item 01 ends first transmission.

GHANA NEWS AGENCY HOME NEWS SERVICE (POLITICS)
E-mail: ghnews@ghana.com www.ghananewsagency.org
Fax: 669841 Tel: 665136/662381
Second Transmission for today, Thursday, December 25, 2008
Begins at+=============+0800 hours

Major Events Expected Include:

Accra:  Christians Celebrate Christmas

Attention: Subscribers: Please credit GNA with all stories and photographs used
END MEM
GNA
DA
25 Dec. 08

NPOL 02
Politics Democracy Antagonistic
Ghana’s democracy should be anchored in non-antagonistic contradiction – Mahama

Daboya (N/R), Dec. 24, GNA – Mr John Dramani Mahama, vice presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), on Wednesday said Ghana’s democracy should be anchored on non-antagonistic contradictions, so that leadership could carry the people along with the truth.
He said: “Democracy cannot be secured when it leads the people with mistrust and flagrant abuse of the law.”
Mr Mahama, who was speaking at a rally at Daboya, near Damongo, in the West Gonja District of the Northern Region as part of his campaign to galvanize votes to win the December 28 presidential election runoff said what the country needed most was building trust among the people.
“It is necessary to ensure that our actions are rooted in truthfulness. Insulting a political opponent would not put food on the table for the citizenry, and we must all desist from that and gain trust from the people that we want to serve,” he said.
He said the way the majority of Ghanaians were raising concerns about the electoral system and attempts by others to rig the elections, missing of ballot boxes and other alleged electoral malpractices, were indications that there was no trust in the leadership.
“All these things are happening because some people think that it is a must to become a leader, but at this era when the electorate is well awake, no one can cheat nature and the intelligence of the voter,” he stressed.
“What we should all be concerned with now, is how to unite the country after so many years of polarization, anger, antagonism and the unwillingness to put Ghana first, which would make all of us proud to belong to the nation,” he said.
He said all the parties have crafted their manifestos on issues and programmes that would help to alleviate the plight of the suffering people, which could put Ghana on the right path to development.
Mr Mahama, therefore, stressed the need to focus on issues.
He said the NDC had repeatedly explained how it would review the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and other programmes of the NPP that would make it convenient and progressively achievable and beneficial to all Ghanaians.
He appealed to Ghanaians to assess his character and that of Professor John Evans Atta Mills and draw conclusions as to whether they could manipulate or victimize political opponents, and vote massively for the NDC to win the December 28 run-off.
GNA

Yendi High School gets new assembly hall and girl’s hostel

Yendi, (N/R), Dec. 24, GNA – Yendi Senior High School now has an assembly hall complex and a girl’s hostel valued at over 570,000 Ghana cedis.
The girl’s hostel was valued at 450,000 Ghana cedis while the assembly hall complex was worth 120,000 Ghana cedis.
Halilianni Enterprise and Interlus Company Limited were the two construction companies that undertook the projects.
The projects were funded under the GETFund with the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL) serving as the consultants.
The Assembly Hall complex which was started under the Acheampong regime had remained as a “white elephant” until now and its completion has been on the initiative of Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Northern Region Minister.
Inaugurating the facilities the Regional Minister urged the school authorities to take good care of the facilities and also plant trees around the buildings to guard against wind storms.
He asked the students to be disciplined and learn to respect their tutors and the elderly, while taking their studies serious, so that they would grow up to become responsible citizens, who would contribute meaningfully to the development of their communities and the country as a whole.
Alhaji Idris, who is an old-boy of the school, urged his colleagues to strive to contribute to the welfare of the school and also try to serve as role models for the students to emulate.
The Regional Minister also cut the sod for the construction of a dinning hall and kitchen complex valued at 450,000 Ghana cedis.
Wal-Lana Abdulai Sulemana, Board Chairman of the School commended the Regional Minister for his support for the school and appealed for furniture for the classrooms and a pick-up to facilitate the movement of students and tutors for official duties.
GNA

Trend to close borders during elections is in national interest-Dzamesi

Dzodze, Dec 24 GNA-Mr. Kofi Dzamesi, Volta Regional Minister on Wednesday said the trend to close borders during general elections in the country had been found to be in the interest of the country.
He said it was the same consideration- to ensure peace and security in the country- which necessitated the order to seal certain borders, just before and during the recent general elections on December 7, this year.
Mr Dzamesi told a press conference at Dzodze, in the Ketu-North District that Ghanaians and people of the Volta Region in particular should, therefore, not be surprised if the found the Ghana/Togo border again closed before and during the coming December 28 runoff.
Mr Dzamesi, flanked by Mr Justice Cudjoe, Ketu-South District Chief Executive however stopped short of saying that a decision had already been taken by government to close borders for the runoff.
Mr Dzamesi, who is Chairman of the Volta Regional Security Council (REGSEC) said the borders to be closed were based on appraisals of security reports.
That is why he explained the Aflao border could be closed while others in the certain other parts of the country would remain open.
He said individuals and groups particularly the Volta Regional House of Chiefs who slammed the recent closures as discriminatory did so because they were not abreast with the security details.
Mr Dzamesi said the peaceful nature of the December 7 elections was due to measures by government, including border closures, noting that government had the singular responsibility to ensure total peace at all times.
He said decisions to close the Ghana-Togo border during elections had antecedents going past the period of NPP rule and so not a new phenomenon.
Mr Dzamesi said the praises being sounded on Ghana and President John Agyekum Kufuor’s administration as being peaceful and democratic came about because the administration worked for it and assured Ghanaians that the coming presidential runoff would run peacefully.
He said the arrest of the Nigerian, Oforkansi Martins with 34 guns of various makes and 2,000 cartridges, could have certain security implications for the country.
The Minister said complaints that the frontier should only be closed after a 48-hour notice was not feasible as security decisions “were taken as and when they were necessary”.
GNA

Nkrumaist Group Want Upper East CPP to go NDC

Bolgatanga, Dec 24, GNA – A group calling itself Nkrumaist Front has through its Upper East Regional Chapter called on supporters of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) to vote for Professor Evans Atta Mills and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the presidential run-off on December 28.
Speaking at a press conference in Bolgatanga, its Upper East representative, Mr. John Yaro, said after a careful consideration, members of the group in the CPP see the NDC as a compatible partner in terms of ideologies.
He said even though the CPP has officially announced its neutrality in the run-off, individuals who reason alike as Nkrumaists, should go out in their numbers and vote for the NDC because it had learnt from its mistakes and could perform creditably when given the mandate to govern.
Mr. Yaro said members of the Front firmly resolved to strengthen the rights of all citizens and ensure transparency at all levels of public administration as well as provide the opportunity for the citizenry to participate fully in all decision-making processes at the local and international levels.
Madam Juana Mayfair Abebrese, National Vice Chairperson of the Front said the CPP is highly disappointed at the NPP’s performance in the eight years it has been in office.
“This is especially so in the present circumstances of economic hardships confronting the masses, and so endorsing the continuation of the NPP would be a misplaced priority and suicidal,” she added.
She said following the grave disappointment in the NPP, “we wish to unequivocally endorse Professor Mills in the run-off election come December 28.”
She contended that, “the NDC stood for change, which is similar to the prescription for change being advocated by the CPP, the People’s National Convention (PNC) and all Nkrumaists.”
She expressed the hope that together they could bring the needed change and development in the country.
GNA

CPP initiative to punish indiscipline parliamentary candidates

Kumasi, Dec. 24, GNA – The Ashanti Regional Executives of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), have initiated move to punish its parliamentary candidates who have openly declared their support presidential candidates in the December 2008 run-off.
The regional executives said they were conferring with the party’s Central Committee to consider the issue.
Mr Samuel Danso, the CPP Regional Chairman, who told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi on Wednesday, said they had compiled the names of all offending candidates and forwarded them to the Central Committee for prompt action to be taken against them.
He said even though the party had not barred any of its members from voting for candidates of their choice in the run-off “what we are against is the open declaration being made by some CPP parliamentary candidates in the region that they support certain presidential candidates.”
Mr Danso was not happy that as a result of this development certain political activists and analysts were now erroneously associating the entire CPP membership and executives with certain parties and presidential candidates in the region.
This, he said, contravened the earlier announcement made by the Central Committee to the effect that its members should try as much as possible to remain neutral and vote for a candidate of their choice in respect of the elections.
The Chairman stated that the CPP frowned on double allegiance on the part of its members since such actions and attitudes impeded efforts to build the party into a unified and independent body.
On the future plans of the party, Mr Danso said, his outfit had intended to secure offices in all the constituencies in the region to help co-ordinate the activities of members for the progress of the party.
He added that in view of events unfolding ahead of the run-off, the regional executives would henceforth scrutinize the identity of people they elect as parliamentary candidates so that only genuine members would be mandated to represent the party.
GNA

Trader remanded for allegedly butchering two women

Kumasi, Dec. 24, GNA – A Kumasi Circuit Court, has remanded into prison custody a 33-year-old trader for allegedly inflicting severe cutlass wounds on two women.
Richard Adjei, the accused, pleaded guilty to the offence but sentence was deferred to January 8, 2009.
Police Inspector Comfort Baffour-Kyei, prosecuting told the court presided over by Mr Emmanuel Amoh-Yartey that, Veronica Adomi and Ernerstina Agyemfra both traders and complainants are also neighbours to Adjei at the 4BN Uaddara Barracks at Bantama in Kumasi.
She said on November 28, this year, at about 2000hours, the complainants were in the house when they heard an unusual noise in the barracks.
At that time, Agyemfra whose son was bathing at the back of the house saw the accused coming towards the house wielding a cutlass, sensing danger he took to his heels to inform his mother.
The prosecutor said just when the son was about informing the mother, Adjei entered the house, pushed down Adomi and went straight to Agyemfra, who questioned him about his behaviour.
He said Adjei became angrier by the interrogation and started to inflict cutlass wounds on Agyemfra till she became unconscious after which he turned to Adomi and slashed her with the cutlass but she was rescued by some neighbours who heard the screams.
Adjei was over-powered and he was handed over to the police.
In his caution statement, he claimed the complainants were the cause of his marital problems, since they were working against him spiritually.
He, therefore, admitted the offence and was charged with causing harm.
GNA

Two teens remanded for assault/death threat

Kumasi, Dec. 24, GNA – Two teenagers have been remanded in prison custody for issuing death threat and physically assaulting a bar operator over an alleged stolen mobile phone and a charger by a Kumasi Circuit Court.
The two, both 19 years, Kwadwo Owusu alias “America” pleaded guilty to the assault whilst Kwame Owusu alias “Musical” pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Three other accomplices whose names were given as David, Opoku and Odegwawi are at large. The two have been remanded in prison custody to re-appear on January 5, 2009.
Meanwhile a bench warrant has been issued for the arrest of the others.
Police Chief Inspector Alice Ansah, prosecuting, told the Court presided over by Mr Eric Baah that the complainant, Clement Yaro and the accused persons stayed at Abrepo-Kesse in Kumasi.
She said on December 3, 2008 at about 2200hours the accused persons, who occasionally visit a drinking bar that belonged to the complainant’s sister, went to the place and said they left a mobile phone and its charger the previous night at the bar.
The prosecutor explained that though the complainant and her sister denied knowledge of the phone, the accused persons insisted that they had it.
He said on December 14, 2008 at 1900hours when complainant was returning from work, the two accused persons together with their accomplices physically assaulted Yaro accusing him of stealing the phone.
The prosecutor said Yaro managed to escape and sought refuge at a drinking spot in the area but they chased him and beat him severely amidst threats to kill him if he fails to produce the phone set.
Chief Inspector Ansah said it took the intervention of a police patrol team to rescue Yaro from their hands. The police managed to arrest the two accussed whiles the rest bolted.
After investigation, they were arraigned.
GNA

Run-off would confirm preference of electorate – Gyimah-Boadi

Accra, Dec. 24, GNA – Prof. Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), a civil society and governance think-thank, has said Ghana’s next Sunday’s presidential election runoff would confirm the preference of voters for the best kind of national democratic governance.
He said the runoff would make the electorate make up their minds where they were not so sure of their choice of the party to run the executive.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in a comment on the December 28 runoff, Prof. Gyimah-Boadi, who is a political scientist, described the runoff as the best thing that happened to Ghana’s democratic governance.
He said the timing was also very significant since Ghanaians would make sound judgment in electing one of the two contending parties – the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the largest minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) – to run the executive for a third term.
Each of the two parties, he said, had had equal chances of two terms since the country re-entered constitutional rule in 1992 and Ghanaians now could better assess their performances and decide who to run the presidency.
Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said the nation now had two fairly mature dominant political parties.
“There is now real evenness in electoral strength and party capacity,” Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said.
He said NPP had moved towards the right of centre and the NDC to the left of centre with very little variation, but Ghana was naturally a two-party state.
Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said with neither of the two major parties having a resounding lead, either of them could end up as the governing party.
“Whichever party wins the presidential race would have a government with a very strong opposition,” which, he said, would be ideal for democratic governance.
Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said the nation was likely to have a split parliament but “we are still going to have an institution that is better configured for democratic governance”.
He, however, said the minority parties might continue to survive despite their little comparative numbers in the Legislature.
Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said benefits of the runoff outweighed the cost as it was a post-election conflict prevention mechanism, adding that, the political troubles in Kenya after their recent elections could have been prevented if there was a runoff.
The figures at Electoral Commission website credit NDC with 114 out of the 228 parliamentary seats declared, while the NPP has 107 seats, People’s National Convention (PNC) has two; Convention People’s Party (CPP) has one seat with the remaining four going to Independent Candidates.
GNA

Chief sentenced to 15 years for stealing family gold

When Ghana’s next President emerges whoever he is he will have earned the right to consider himself the representative of hope for the growth of genuine democracy throughout the West African sub-region. Apart from the circumspect and efficient manner in which most observers report that the first polls were conducted the preparations for a second contest to decide the eventual winner have been equally praised as demonstrating exemplary maturity and respect for the tradition of fairness and equity in political contest. Coming at the same time when the result of Nigeria’s last Presidential race has had to be settled by a closely divided Supreme Court judgement and when Guinea’s sit tight President Conteh has succumbed to illness while clinging on to power desperately the outcome of the Ghanaian run-off is being eagerly awaited not only by Ghanaians but also by all West Africans.

A successful outcome will reinforce the verdict of the cosmopolitan network of election observers who have pronounced the recent exercise as instructive for similar exercises in the sub-region in the future. Among those making this pronouncement the verdict of the ECOWAS Observer Mission is particularly important. The leader of that Mission is Nigeria’s former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon who was removed from office by members of his own army who accused him among other things of failing to live up to a promise to hand power back to civilians in 1973. In a subsequent development when General Gowon returned to Nigeria after being in exile for several years he sought to run for the Presidency but was denied the selection of his party right from the ward level. In spite of this seeming humiliation General Gowon has since redeemed his own reputation with a vocal and visible commitment to the principles of democratic discourse and electoral probity. His choice as the head of the ECOWAS Mission was most appropriate especially when it is remembered that he was indeed one of the founders of the sub-regional body.

Although Gowon’s successor in office Murtala Muhammed was assassinated he had established a clear and irrevocable transition programme as a part of his legacy before he died. This was carried out to the letter by the administration led by General Obasanjo. The members of the Obasanjo military administration were members of the Murtala Administration who believed in the sacrosanct nature of his promise to hand over and felt bound by it. The syndrome of reluctance to hand over power which came to be associated with the Nigerian military in government at a later stage was therefore a violation of that tradition.

Gowon’s leadership of the ECOWAS Observer Mission and their efficient and comprehensive report on the conduct of the first phase of the 2008 elections in that country has reverberated throughout the sub-region. They delineated the preparations and the conduct of the elections and defined those practices that they consider worthy of emulation by other countries as “best practices”. They listed these and defined the consequences as well as the background of these practices in clear and unequivocal language and made their recommendations without compromise. It will serve the interest of clarity if we quote just one of such recommendations from the preliminary report of the Mission.

“The Mission took positive note of the provisions in the Ghana electoral law with regard to early voting and proxy voting, a practice which could be replicated in the ECOWAS region.” After describing the nature of these provisions the Mission also commended the Ghana Election Commission for ensuring that hardly anyone was disenfranchised. It then made some very important observations about the conduct of the electorate and its composition noting that there was a very high turnout of voters with people queuing from as early as four a.m. in some places. It also stated that, “The composition of the electorate was diverse and included a remarkable turnout of women and the youth; the aged and the physically challenged. The voting population was predominantly youthful, with a high number of first time voters.” The clarity and credibility of the Mission’s observations throughout the report justified Dr. Mohammed ibn Chambas the ECOWAS Commission President’s confidence in their integrity as a group.

One of the members of the Mission was a former Interim President of Liberia Dr. Amos Sawyer whose commitment to the establishment of a democratic tradition in the sub-region has been irreversible. He was once the Chairman of a Constitutional Review Conference that established impeccable guidelines for democratic elections and proper political representation for the people in his own country. At the time Master Sergeant Doe who was the Head of State did not wish to honour the commitments that were enshrined the resolutions of that conference and Dr. Sawyer was forced to go into exile eventually. When he served as Interim President he tried his best to instill the idea of democratic accountability in the conduct of government as well as to broker a meaningful reform of the selection process. Eventually he stepped down rather than struggle to hold on to power even though many observers felt that the time was not ripe for the hand over.

Subsequent events tended to vindicate this view but Dr. Sawyer’s conscience must have been clear since he held to his principles when he could have abandoned them and kept power for himself. The process of democratic exchange and reform in Liberia has been strengthened by his example and it is well known that during the last Presidential elections in Liberia he played a discreet but seminal role in ensuring that Ellen Sirleaf Johnson’s historic victory was consummated. In this role he was an honest broker rather than a manipulator of electoral favours and that Liberian election is one of West Africa’s finest democratic moments so far. These Ghanaian elections now appear to be headed towards similar success and historical relevance as a redeeming factor in the story of the struggle for democratic credibility and popular electoral contest throughout the sub-region.

That the rest of West Africa should draw important lessons for its democratic future from the experiences of Liberia and Ghana is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Liberia still lays claim to being the oldest republic in Africa even though the flaws of its own journey to modern nationhood are well known. Ghana was the first nation in black Africa to gain independence from colonial rule in modern times and its promise while having been aborted by military intervention has been strengthened and renewed by its economic revival as well as its display of political maturity over the last ten years or so. It has absorbed a traumatic upheaval that involved the assassination of prominent personalities and former leaders as well as an economic downturn that caused Ghanaians to be dispersed throughout the sub-region as refugees for many years.

Ghanaian refugees earned a reputation throughout West Africa as vital and competent contributors to any society in which they sojourned especially as teachers and skilled workers. Here in Nigeria those of us who were aware of their presence in the late 60s through to the early 80s and the traumatic “Ghana Must Go” must go aberration that Muhammadu Buhari, one of our military leaders, perpetuated will not be surprised at the findings of the ECOWAS Observer Mission. We know that seriousness of purpose and dedication to African progress is second nature to most Ghanaians. They cannot help it. Ghana’s founding father Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah instilled that value system in the lifeblood of even those who opposed him. It is also interesting to note that the present (and first) President of the ECOWAS Commission Dr. ibn Chambas is Ghanaian himself and is widely regarded in that country as a dedicated public servant who believes in sub-regional unity. It is not by accident that he has presided over the establishment and sustenance of the Observer Mission that has given such a ringing endorsement to the success of Ghana’s elections this time around.
Credit: Lindsay Barret

Source: Sun News

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Shares