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General News | Nov 19, 2004

Where Was Kufuor During Presidential Debates?

Chronicle

CAMPAIGN MANAGER of President J.A. Kufuor, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, has stated that there were several reasons why the president did not take part in the presidential debate.

According to him, they were a little bit confused about the organizers of the debate because the last debate was done by a different organization and a different one handled this one.

"It seems different groups are organizing different things," he said.

Mr. Obetsebi Lamptey, in an interview with The Chronicle, said the biggest reason was that no one actually contacted the president himself. "Nobody actually did the president the courtesy of approaching him personally to say that 'Mr. President, we want you to take part in the debate.'"

Meanwhile, fortunately, the country, he said, had a President who was very accessible to all Ghanaians.

"If you want him to do something, you just have to let him know," he stressed.

He explained that they had had a letter that stated that they were looking for a suitable date for all the presidential candidates and were expecting a response from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Presidential candidate.

Yet, even before they could respond to the letter, they saw an advertisement in the dailies, announcing the programme and the date.

"So we did not see the reason why they wanted us to comment on the date, when they had already advertised in the newspapers," he said.

He mentioned that, the president's absence had to do as well with the busy itinerary as they had to schedule him for a lot of duties. He said when he was candidate J.A. Kufour in 2000, all his time was devoted to campaigning but whenever the opportunity arose, he took it up.

Unfortunately, this time around, he was in Abuja to settle something.

Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey argued that, when it came to elections, one could not use the electronic media alone because even in America, where they had really developed the skills of electronic media, candidates still had to go out and meet the people.

"You have Bush and Kerry going out on trains to meet the people because at the end of the day, the people say if you want my vote, come and ask for it. Don't sit in your offices and go on TV and expect I would vote for you."

Therefore, they had to schedule a lot of his time to go around "individuals, principalities and traditional areas" to ask for their votes.

For every decision one took, there was always a price to pay, he observed and added that because they wanted to get across to the people of Ghana and let them know that they needed their mandate, they had to concentrate on that.

To him, they had promised to do certain things for Ghanaians four years ago, which they had fulfilled and had even come out with a report to show that they had kept their word. Therefore, they did not deem a debate antagonistic or challenging.

Two minutes for an answer, he said, would not do justice to the amount of work their policy document had detailed. To him, therefore, the debate was "not the best way we can communicate to the people."

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