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30.03.2007 General News

Political Parties Commended

A Senior Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has commended political parties for their roles in sustaining multi-party democracy in the country since 1992.

Brigadier General Francis A. Agyemfra (retd), pointed out that the path to democracy, which was endorsed by Ghanaians had not been smooth because it was full of personal, institutional and systematic challenges.

He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Institute for the Northern Sector in Kumasi.

Brigadier Agyemfra said it was for those reasons that all stakeholders had collaborated to level the playing field to enable registered political parties in the country to build their institutional capacities to attract the electorate.

He said it was for this reason that registered political parties with representations in Parliament were provided with funds and resources that had enabled them to carry out training and capacity- building programmes for their members.

He said the various forms of support provided the political parties had not only transformed them from “electoral machines to viable political actors” but had also made it possible for hitherto neglected aspects of political parties, such as Women and Youth wings, to be organised effectively.

He said the political parties were also provided with equipment like computers, photocopies, fax machines and other electronic gadgets to enhance communication, stressing that this support had made it possible for the political parties to employ at least four full-time staff including a policy analyst, whose duty was to conduct research on various policies that affected the citizenry.

Brigadier Agyemfra said notwithstanding those achievements, there was room for improvement, especially in the areas of the legal framework under which political parties operated, hence the seminar to address issues that would accelerate the pace of democracy in the country.

A former Speaker of Parliament, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, reiterated the need for the amendment of the constitution to pave the way for local government elections to be organised on partisan lines to enhance the democratic dispensation in the country.

Speaking on the topic, “ The legal frame- work for the operation of Political Parties in Ghana” Mr Adjetey said experience in political party activities for local government elections was a useful training ground for participation in elections in both the presidential and Parliament elections, and should, therefore, be encouraged, instead of being denigrated or prohibited”.

He explained further that “the prohibition of political parties from operating for the purposes of district assemblies or lower local government units by the 1992 constitution was considered by many as totally unreasonable and unrealistic”, and that “after all the constitution guarantees the right to every Ghanaian citizen of voting age to join a political party and political parties are also given the right to operate for the purposes of national elections”

Mr Adjetey said the requirement that every political party should have at least one founding member in each district of Ghana “is unnecessarily restrictive”.

He said it was equally demanding for political parties to be tasked to organise their activities in not less that two-thirds of all the districts in each region and explained that “there are practical problems in calculating two-thirds of all the districts in a region”.

Story by George Ernest Asare