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22.11.2005 General News

Wake-up Call for Commercialising Democratic Process?

By The Statesman
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Leading members of the New Patriotic Party The Statesman spoke to on Eric Amoateng's predicament, were unanimous in saying that if the MP is found guilty as charged then he deserves punishment that is thrown at him. They see it as an unpardonable disgrace to the august office that he holds in the name of his constituents.

A senior member of the NPP has posited that the present situation should serve as a wake-up call to Parliament and the Ghanaian politic about the dangers of commercialising the democratic process, which could lead to the election of people with shady characters and pasts but with deep pockets, while more qualified people with lighter pockets are left in the electoral wilderness. At the moment, even 'good' people with relatively deep pockets need to work two or more jobs to make it in the political jungle, he said.

However, others have warned against judging the man before the trial has even started. His arrest, nevertheless, poses a pressing constitutional dilemma. Assuming he is indeed the man in question, it has been suggested that Mr Amoateng honourably resign as MP while investigations into the matter are conducted. However, there are indications that Mr Amoateng might be forced to resign by hawks in the New Patriotic Party, if he fails to do so on his own. Such moves already begun at the weekend.

Legal experts The Statesman spoke to were divided on the possibility of holding a by-election to replace Mr Amoateng, if indeed he is the man in question. Proponents of the 'hold a by-election' view argue that since the trial might take upwards of a year, there is the need to elect a replacement for the people of Nkoranza North.

Opponents, however, cite the case of Dan Abodakpi, former Trade and Industry Minister, who, though battling in the law courts since 2002, continues to serve as MP for Keta.

The argument is also being made in some quarters that Mr Abodakpi could serve as MP because his case is within Ghana's borders, whereas the present case is outside the Ghanaian jurisdiction.