The Center for Democratic Development is to organise a parliamentary debate in 30 constituencies nationwide aimed at making the 2008 election campaign more issue based and less personality driven, and most importantly make the Ghanaian electorates make an informed choice on who should represent them in Parliament.
According to the Programme Officer of CDD-Ghana, Harrison Kofi Belly, the core rationale for conducting grassroots-level parliamentary constituency debates is to afford both candidates and the wider electorate the opportunity to hear different candidates on the same platform at the same time, compare their programmes and grasp of issues that are pertinent to the local community.
He noted that, the parliamentary debate will give candidates and the electorate the chance to assess the capabilities of the contestants.
Mr Kofi Belly, who made the remarks at a preparatory workshop for parliamentary candidates in Tamale, added that, the CDD-Ghana is interested in reducing the influence of ethnicity in Ghanaian electoral politics and above all help the electorate to make informed choices at the polls.
The pre-parliamentary debate workshop which brought together over 30 parliamentary candidates in the Northern region was aimed at helping candidates to explore the key issues and topics to be covered in the planned debates and help them prepare to address them in those forums.
The parliamentary debates he hinted, will focus on several issues that affect the people of the Ghana especially at the grassroots-level, including the local government and decentralisation and how to deepen it, corruption, education, health related issues, strengthening agriculture and food security, gender equity, fostering peace among others.
Candidates will answer questions in the order their parties appear on the ballot sheet; in cases where there are more than two candidates who are not affiliated to a party, the choice for the speakers will be made in alphabetical order.
Mr Belly revealed that, as much as possible candidates will be given the freedom to choose the language or dialect in which to present their programme and answer questions. "
Time is of essence and therefore depending on the number of candidates in a particular constituency, the first round of undirected presentation should take place between five to ten minutes
During the question and answer session, candidates have a maximum of one minute and thirty seconds to answer questions.'
He cautioned that time keeping will be very strictly enforced to ensure a level playing field, adding that, tone, tact and decorum should be the key words that should guide these debates.
'It is important that participants are conscious of their own language that should be devoid of defamatory statements.
It is also hoped that candidates instruct their supporters to be of good behaviour,' he advised.
Meanwhile, the Tamale Central debate will come off on 25th November.