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18.03.2009 General News

Transition Report provokes reaction

By Emmanuel Akli, Ag. Editor - Ghanaian Chronicle
Transition Report provokes reaction

...MILLS SNAPS... over abuse of trust by Public Office holders

President John Evans Atta Mills yesterday gave strong signals that his government would deal decisively with former Ministers and other officials that served in the Kufuor administration if they were found guilty of abusing their offices.

Speaking at a meeting with executives of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and some senior journalists at the Osu Castle, yesterday, he said he is meticulously studying the report that was submitted to him by the government transitional team and that he would allow the law to deal drastically with those who would be found out to have misconducted themselves.

The unusually emotionally charged President told the journalists that he had already seen some negative things in the report and that he would definitely allow the law to take its course after he had finished studying it.

President Mills, who was surrounded by his chief of staff and personal Secretary, said when his government starts to strictly apply the law, people should not be going round and saying that they are being witch- hunted, adding that so long as they have broken the oath of office, they must be prepared to answer for it.

President Mills noted that he would always allow the law to be his guiding principle and that should he also breach it, Ghanaians have the right to use the courts to bring him to book. He was not happy that people have already started jumping the gun, when he himself has not finished studying the report of the transitional team.

President Mills also charged on people who he suspected to be undermining his government, warning that they should not take his leniency to be his weakness. “The people of Ghana voted and accepted the verdict, they installed a government in this country, they did not install number one government and number two government, and there is only one government in this country.”

“There is only one President in this country and I want to emphasize that recent developments give me cause to worry and to be concerned, I believe in being civil to one another, I believe in the rule of law, I believe in due process and my brothers and sisters, let no one mistake my respect for peaceful co-existence as a sign of weakness or unwillingness or inability to enforce the law.” he said.

The President did not mention any names, but said no matter the tribe that one belonged to, we are all Ghanaians and we must live in peace. He made it clear that he was not against criticism, but what he abhorred are those that would not advance the course of this country.

On his part, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Mr. Ransford Tetteh, told the President that journalists believe in partnership, but would also scrutinise government programmes and policies.

“Mr. President, we shall commend you when you make positive strides to better the lives of the people of Ghana, and in the same vein, we urge you to accept criticisms of your policies in good faith,” he stressed.

He intimated that the media fraternity was encouraged by the President's assurance to pass the Freedom of Information Bill, which has been on the drawing board since 2005, as well as the passage of the National Broadcasting Law. He noted that the country has come a long way in promoting media freedom and freedom of expression since the adoption of constitutional rule in 1993, adding that all governments since 1993 have in one way or the other deepened the frontiers of media freedom.

“In the mid-1990s, the then NDC government liberalised the air waves, while in 2001, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government repealed the Criminal Libel Law,” he emphasized. He however, lamented that because of the lack of legislation on broadcasting in the country, Ghana did not have a clear, transparent and uniformly applied legal criteria for the grant of a broadcasting frequency, re-emphasizing that the situation lends the process to arbitrariness.

He maintained that it has also been established that the regulatory overview of the content of the programme was virtually non-existent, which exposes the public, and children in particular, to non-edifying and sometimes harmful programmes.

“This unfortunate development reared its head during Election 2008, where certain radio stations attempted to incite the public against the Electoral Commission,” he said.