We Uphold Free Expression - President Mills
President John Evans Atta Mills has given an assurance that the government and its agents would protect the rights of individuals or groups who wished to express their concerns through democratic means.
He said the expression of such concerns through mass action was part of the rights of the citizens and his administration would continue to respect them if exercised within the confines of the law.
President Mills was commenting on the peaceful demonstrations organised separately by two groups, the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) and the Movement For a Better Ghana (MFBG), in Accra and Kumasi, respectively, when he was interacting with the Castle Press Corps soon after the outgoing British High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Nicholas Westcott had bid him farewell, at the end of his three-year tenure.
In the Kumasi demonstration yesterday, the Movement For a Better Ghana had hailed the government’s economic policies and called on the President to take immediate action on alleged financial malfeasance perpetrated during the administration of former President Kufuor.
While it was at it, AFAG was also hitting the streets in Accra, condemning the government’s policies, especially the recent increases in fuel prices.
AFAG also drew the President’s attention to what it described as the “poor quality of lives of Ghanaians”.
President Mills said, “Demonstrations are part of the democratic practices which allow people to express themselves.”
On Ghana-UK relations, he said they had been further strengthened by Mr Westcott’s efforts, noting that “during your tenure, you added another dimension, which is the drug fight”.
He commended the British Government for its support for Ghana’s fight against narcotics and said Ghana would not relent on its efforts at eliminating dangerous drugs from the country.
For his part, the outgoing High Commissioner commented on his country’s investments in Ghana, especially in the fields of telecommunications, education and agriculture.
On Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Westcott said Britain was in strong support of the stance of ECOWAS to ensure that peace returned to that country.
He thanked President Mills for strengthening the bond of friendship between the two countries, saying, “I am leaving this country with sadness and a heavy heart. This is a country dear to my heart.”