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30.10.2008 Politics

Mahama blames mob justice on failure of criminal justice system

By gna

Dr Edward Mahama, Presidential Candidate of People's National Convention (PNC), on Wednesday said he would ensure justice for all under his presidency, blaming the lynching of suspects on the failure of the criminal justice system.

He pledged that under his presidency justice to all would be a cardinal principle.

Dr Mahama made the remark in answer to a question about national security, law and order during the first round of two scheduled presidential debates organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs.

The debates featured the four Presidential Candidates of parties with representation in Parliament. They were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of New Patriotic Party (NPP); Professor John Evans Atta Mills of National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention People's Party (CPP).

Dr Mahama, who spotted white smock on top of a black pair of trousers, a cap and a muffler in party colours, was the fourth in the sitting arrangement.

He noted that the search for peace in Ghana could be an effort in futility if justice were not upheld.

"A CPP Chairman was killed sometime back and people were arrested and let go - till date justice has not been done and that could be a possible source of mob action," he said.

He also noted that in northern Ghana, the interference of politicians in chieftaincy matters had been a major source of the conflicts in parts of that area, saying that under PNC Government the politicians would keep off chieftaincy issues and allow chiefs to deal with such matters.

"Under my Government the Police will deal with crime and chiefs will deal with chieftaincy issues," he said.

Dr Mahama also promised to ensure judicial independence by improving the judicial system to enable it to provide justice without influence from politicians.

"The days when senior politicians protect junior politicians from the long arms of the law would be over under a PNC government," he said.

On energy, Dr Mahama promised to explore wind, solar, bio-fuel and nuclear energy sources to augment the hydro and thermal energy generation in the country, adding that even the two existing sources would be improved substantially.

He also promised to improve the management of energy and to cut down the wastage in the system to ensure that production cost also reduced substantially to make energy affordable to the citizens.

Dr Mahama said under a PNC Government petrol chemical industries would be established in the Western Region to process some of the oil discovered for local consumption.

"We will also build a university in the Western Region with a particular focus on training people in oil management to man the petrol chemical industry.

"We will also ensure transparency of contracts with the overseas exploiters through a Parliamentary scrutiny process to ensure that the public knows the quantity of oil going out and how much revenue is coming in," he said.

He said PNC Government would create an effective link between the petrol chemical industry and agro-industries to ensure that the food production sector got enough oil and other by-products such as fertilizer to increase production for the benefit of the masses.

"Through that linkage we are sure to create at least 100,000 jobs in the first year of our coming into government," he said.

Touching on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Dr Mahama said he would not go round begging for investors to come into the country, but rather focus on helping local investors and innovators to improve their production and thereby attract foreign investor to partner with them.

He cited the Rev. Safo Kantanka, Head of the Kristo Asafo Mission, who uses reverse engineering to manufacture cars and other mechanical equipment, saying that a PNC government would support such initiatives.

Dr Mahama deplored the existence of borders and roadblocks on trade routes within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and promised that if voted president, he would use his good relations with other Heads of State and government in the Sub-Region to remove the roadblocks to allow trade to flourish.

He said his Government would ensure food security by creating market at the farm gates, improving irrigation systems through rainwater harvesting and providing functional storage and food preservations systems.

"We would go back to Operation Feed Yourself but in a modified form," he said.

On quality education and social security, Dr Mahama said he would focus on improving the lot of teachers and revamping the salary system in the country to ensure that pension money was calculated on a larger basic salary than what it was now.

"That way we would encourage more people into the teaching profession to fill in the huge gap, which is adversely affecting quality education in the country," he said.

Dr Mahama noted that some of the investment made by SSNIT with pensioners' fund were low-yielding and that had led to low pension payment to retired workers, saying that a PNC Government would re-look at some of those investment and ensure that the interest of the masses were upheld in that regard.

He said the PNC would overhaul the public health system to prevent maternal mortality, which now stood at 50 per 1,000 mothers.

Dr Mahama used his concluding statement to call on Ghanaians to choose between the road that led to destruction and violence and that which led to prosperity and progress and promised a leadership of honesty and sincerity saying that under his leadership there would be real change and real hope for the people.

"I will provide leadership by example - leadership that does what it tells others to do - people centred leadership," he said.

In all, there were eleven major questions, which focused on job creation; education; health; security; law and order; oil revenue; energy; women and children's rights; foreign direct investment; food security and intra-regional trade.

There were four rounds of four questions each. For the first two rounds each candidate had three minutes to answer a major questions and a minute for rebuttal, which was optional.

Two minutes was allotted for major questions in the third and fourth rounds and each was given an extra two minutes to make concluding remarks.

The moderators were Mr Cyril Akolatse, a veteran broadcaster and Prof. Kwame Karikari, Associate Professor of the School of Communications Studies, University of Ghana.