20.04.2005 Politics

Ghanaians urged to protect Constitution

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Accra, April 20, GNA - The Constitution needs to be protected by all citizens to ensure that the Fourth Republican withstands political and military debacles, Mr Laary Bimi, Chairman of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), said on Wednesday. The NCCE Chairman said at a news briefing in Accra to officially launch this year's National Constitution Week celebration that Ghanaians must remember the ideals of April 28, 1992 when a national referendum was held to endorse the 1992 Constitution.

The celebration is a period when Ghanaians participate in discussions, debates, theatre performances and other activities on the Constitution to ensure that it becomes a living document engraved on the mind and heart for the attainment of democracy and good governance. Mr Bimi said the week was borne out of an urgent demand for knowledge and information by Ghanaians to accelerate the growth and sustenance of democracy and constitutionalism.

He explained that April 28 had been adopted as the commencement date for activities in commemoration of the referendum on the Constitution.

The NCCE Chairman reiterated that the aim of the National Constitution Week was to create an increased and sustained interest and participation of all Ghanaians in the new democratic dispensation for the achievement of good governance, social and political stability for national unity and development.

He said since its inception in 2001, the Week had been celebrated under various themes to promote greater participation in the democratic governance for the sustenance of multi-party democracy, good governance and education of the public on their civic and democratic rights. In 2001, the Commission adopted: "Eight Years of Constitutional Rule, Challenges and Prospects", as the general theme for the first celebration while the second celebration in 2002 was on the theme: "The Constitution, Cultural Values and Good Governance."

The theme for the third in 2003 was: "Decade of Constitutionalism in Ghana, Strategies for Consolidation," and the fourth in 2004 was "National Integration Through Tolerance."

This year's celebration, the Fifth Constitution Week, scheduled for April 28 to May 4, is on the general theme: "Reducing Poverty Through Citizens' Participation in Local Government." Mr Bimi said it was dedicated to broadening the principles of participatory democracy.

"The essence of citizens' participation in local governance is to overcome some of these challenges so that policies are developed and carried out jointly in a manner that is as responsive as possible to the needs and desires of citizens."

He said participatory democracy would ensure collective action between government authorities and citizens and raise awareness on development responsibilities by civil society and its involvement in public policy design.

It would also contribute to a more open, inclusive and transparent society and would strengthen democratic institutions and the culture of democracy, and provide an environment under which poverty could be reduced rapidly.

Justifying the celebration of the Constitution Week, Mr Bimi said the Week provided the opportunity for the entire population to participate in a series of civic education activities aimed at increasing their awareness of the Constitution. It also ensures increased participation in the democratic process for the achievement of good governance, social and political stability and national integration and development.

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