THREE OUT of the four Presidential candidates who were denied the opportunity to partake in last Wednesday's landmark Presidential debate held at the Kofi Annan ICT Center in Accra have lambasted the organizers of the show, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), for unduly excluding them from the event.
The three flagbearers who launched the sweltering attacks on the IEA were Ward Brew, Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi and Kwabena Agyei, Presidential candidates of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) and Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD) respectively.
Before the programme, the IEA in its own wisdom decreed that only political parties who had representation in the august house of Parliament were going to take part in the institute's maiden Presidential debate.
Against this background only the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), Convention People's Party (CPP) and the People's National Convention (PNC), who have representation in the legislative house, participated in the debate, leaving behind the DPP, DFP,RPD and the independent candidate who are not represented in Parliament currently.
The three aggrieved Presidential hopefuls were unambiguous and unanimous in condemning the IEA when they spoke in turns on Angel Fm, a private radio station in Kumasi on Friday morning.
Firing the first salvo, the RPD Presidential nominee, Mr. Kwabena Agyei popularly known as 'Bambaata' said the inability of the IEA to include all successful candidates participating in the forthcoming elections in the show amounted to a mockery of democracy.
“How can the IEA proclaim to be contributing to the entrenchment of democracy in the country when it failed to include all contesting Presidential candidates in their organized debate?” he questioned.
He said the action of the organizers did not only erode the democratic gains the country had chalked over the years but it also abused the political and constitutional rights of the four rejected aspirants.
The founder-cum-flagbearer noted that the deliberate failure on the part of IEA to include them in the debate had led him to believe that the smaller parties partaking in this year's election would be discriminated against in all aspects of the electioneering process.
Without validating his assertion, Bambaata emphasized that the IEA was a body formed by persons who were only interested in playing to the gallery just to satisfy the whims and caprices of some people.
The renowned Kumasi-based timber merchant who calls himself a visionary, indicated that his exclusion from the debate was going to have a telling effect on his campaign.
He said had he been on the show he would have performed well to win more votes for his party in the upcoming polls.
Commenting on the performance of the four candidates who took part in the memorable event which many people said was not a debate but a question and answer session, the timber merchant pointed out that Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom won on his cards.
He said he was not impressed with the other three candidates because they sounded too theoretical, therefore their answers were not convincing.
Taking his turn to launch the second onslaught on the IEA, the DPP Presidential hopeful, Mr. Ward Brew amusingly indicated that the organizers were afraid of him, hence the decision not to allow him to participate in the debate.
“Because the IEA knew I was going to carry the day, they intentionally eliminated me from the show,” he stated assertively.
The prominent Accra-based legal practitioner contended that the exercise was not worthwhile because of the exclusion of the other four candidates competing in the December 7 elections.
Describing the IEA as an implausible institution, the DPP Presidential candidate observed that he was highly disappointed that the other four candidates went ahead and participated in the programme when indeed they were in the know that some candidates had been sidelined.
Mr. Ward Brew emphasized that for the sake of consolidating democracy in the country the four aspirants who took part in the debate ought to have boycotted the show and insisted that until the other candidates were included they were not going to partake in the event.
He said he was particularly disappointed with Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Prof Evans Atta Mills, flagbearers of the NPP and the NDC for not publicly expressing their displeasure about the exclusion of the other four contesting candidates for the debate.
“As lawyers and people who claim to be champions of democracy, they should have been concerned about the deliberate exclusion of the other four candidates from the debate,” Mr. Ward Brew stressed.
Exhibiting a high degree of infuriation, the DPP Presidential aspirant categorically declared that he would never partake in future IEA programmes.
Continuing the bombardment, the DFP Presidential nominee, Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi said the IEA erred when it decided that only flagbearers of political parties who have representation in Parliament were going to be allowed to engage in the exercise.
He said though he could have utilized the opportunity to sell his message to the voting public through the IEA forum; he was not perturbed by the development because he was still in touch with the people on the ground and that his message had been bought by the electorate.
When asked whether he would respond to future IEA programmes, the management consultant remarked that he would discuss the issue with the party's leadership to know the next line of action to take.
From Morgan Owusu, Kumasi