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14.11.2004 Politics

Parliamentary Candidates hold debate in Takoradi

By GNA

Takoradi, Nov. 14, GNA - Dr. Kwesi Anning, a security expert has underscored the need for all candidates vying for a constituency's parliamentary seat to articulate their programmes on a common platform for the electorate to make an informed choice of the candidates on the election day.

He attributed the conflicts in some countries in the West African sub-region to election related issues, stressing Parliamentary Candidates' Debate Fora as crucial and critical to give an opportunity to electorates to meet all the candidates at the same time.

Dr Anning, who was the lead moderator at a Parliamentary Candidates' Debate for candidates contesting for the Takoradi Constituency seat said, the absence of incumbent Members of Parliament (MP), and candidates contesting on the ticket of the ruling party, was a show of arrogance and abuse of incumbency.

Three Independent Candidates, Mr Godwill Abaka, Mr Francis Eghan and Rev. Kojo Scheck, and Mr Ivor Tackie Adams took turns to present their programmes to the people at the debate, organized by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).

The candidates presented and explained their programmes on Local Government and Decentralisation, Health and HIV/AIDS, National and Local Security, Food Security, Mainstreaming Gender and Corruption. Mr Abaka accused the executive of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for expelling him from the party and further harassing him with five different arrests, coupled with the seizure of his photographic equipment for standing for the truth.

He promised to decongest the metropolis, ensure that litterbins were provided in front of all stores in the city, build satellite markets, and make the street lightening system in the city work. Mr Abaka, who is also the President of the Petty Traders Association, said basic education was enshrined as free in the Constitution, and asked the electorate to hold the political leaders accountable to make basic education really free. Political leaders must forgo certain luxuries to bring education to the people, Mr Abaka said. He called for government support for incorporation of traditional medical practice in finding drug for HIV/AIDS, adding that, he would advocate support for People Living With AIDS.

Mr Eghan, who said he was a former regional chairman of the NPP, and Assembly member for eight and half years, accused the NPP leadership for sidelining him for the past three and half years.

He said he was not in any litigation with the NPP, but to put his skills and experience as the disposal of the constituents.

Mr Eghan expressed concern over the low level in employment, which he sai was the result of the collapse of railways work, and promised to bring investment in the city to raise the level of employment.

He disagreed on a special levies on Ghanaians to care for Peoples Living With AIDS, and said he would rather advocate that monies used to organize beauty pageant were channelled into finding lasting solution for HIV/AIDS, stressing that periodic examination of sexually active males on the HIV status to check the spread of the disease.

Mr Eghan described polygamy as a very disturbing factor, but said it was not necessary to pass a law to regulate the number of wives a man had.

Another Independent Candidate, Rev Scheck, dwelt on divine guidance to execute his development plans, saying that, the problems of the constituency could be solved with the fear of God.

Reverend Scheck, who promised to champion mainly the cause of women and children, when he entered into parliament, prayed for a woman president after President J A Kufour.

He asked Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister for Women and Children's Affairs, and the incumbent MP, seeking re-election, to concentrate on her Ministerial position and leave the work of the MP for him. Reverend Scheck, with the broom as his symbol, declared that he would never make any bills to advertise himself because he was not a dead person, disagreed with the state funding of political parties, and added that, such monies should rather be used to support the disadvantaged in society.

He promised to promote inter-ethnic marriages, sports and entertainment to check tribalism.

The PNC candidate, Mr Adams, promised to expand schools, and collaborate with the District Assembly to bring a facelift to the metropolis and the constituency, rid the streets of lunatics, lame people and beggars by building special place to keep them. He promised to establish a scholarship scheme for brilliant but needy pupils, help strengthen HIV/AIDS policies and promote education on responsible parenthood.

Mr Adams supported the call for mainstreaming women into governance, but called women gender advocates " iron ladies", who made the men feel threatened.

He said he would support the passage of a law to regulate Property Rights of Spouses, adding that, families of husbands must give an undertaking of to recognize only the first wives.

All the candidates agreed that the law that support the appointment of some assembly members must be reviewed, for all assembly members and district chief executives to be elected.

Mr Kwuku Baah Owusu, Western Regional Director of the National Commission on Civic Education, who chaired the debate, said Ghana had reached a stage that political office holders must pursue programmes in the sovereign will of the people.

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