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28.04.2005 Politics

Annual Constitution Week celebrations kick off

By GNA

Accra, April 28, GNA - The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) on Thursday commenced national, regional and district activities aimed at educating citizens on how to apply participatory democracy to poverty reduction among other issues.

The activities framed up in the Fifth Annual National Constitution Week celebration was also dedicated to broadening the principles of participatory democracy, the NCCE stated in Accra.

The NCCE, main organisers of the annual event, explained that the essence of citizens' participation in local governance was to overcome challenges of poverty, enhance democratic governance and create public awareness.

Speaking at the opening ceremony in Accra on Thursday, Mr Charles Bintim, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development outlined a national plan to reduce poverty through a rural development policy. He said the policy sough to use agricultural production, rural enterprise development as well as micro-finance and credit schemes to empower the people and reduce poverty.

The Minister said land reforms, provision of infrastructure for small dams, support for the vulnerable with special reference to women and children would be embarked upon to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

Mr Bintim called for collaboration between NCCE, local government structures, and stakeholders to reduce poverty through education of the rural people on their social, economic and political responsibilities. Mr Laary Bimi, NCCE Chairman said Ghana's effort at poverty reduction depended on a governance paradigm that would make government accessible, responsive and accountable at the local level. He said citizen participation in local governance would result in social auditing and accountability of state officials and politicians and contribute to a more open, inclusive and transparent society. Mr Bimi said the Commission would use the celebration to encourage the poor and disadvantaged in districts to play an active and responsive role in the governance of their communities.

He said NCCE would educated the public on the relevance of decentralisation, benefits of effective participation in local governance, the empowerment of women to increase their knowledge and participation in district level politics and offer them the opportunity to access various state interventions for poverty reduction. Mr Bimi said the NCCE would also encouraged, the youth, chiefs and other opinion leaders to develop the character and courage to act as social auditors of the District Chief Executives, the elected district assembly representatives and heads of the decentralised departments in their localities.

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

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." Professor Nana Araba Apt of Asahie, a private University at Labone, chaired the ceremony, which was attended by security officers, media practitioners, students, politicians, the donor community, parliamentarians and cross section of the public.

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