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24.01.2006 General News

People's Representation Amendment Bill is subvertionist weapon - Minority

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Accra, Jan. 24, GNA - Five minority parties on Tuesday put aside their political and ideological differences to fight the ruling New Patriotic Party against the passage of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill.

The parties united in purpose described the Bill "as an elaborate and continuing scheme by the Government to subvert the democratic will of the people of Ghana.

"We as leaders of legitimate and registered political parties with a constitutional right to influence the democratic will of the nation, cannot allow the NPP government to destroy this country through electoral fraud as it intends," they said in a statement read by Dr Kwabena Adjei, Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The five parties - NDC, People's National Convention (PNC), National Reform Party (NRP), Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and EGLE Party stated this at a press conference organised to sensitise and educate the public about the dangers that the Bill would pose to the country's democratic development.

Dr Kwabena Adjei, NDC Chairman, Mr Danny Ofori-Atta, Chairman of EGLE Party, Mr Peter Kpordugbe, Chairman of NRP and Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, Acting Chairman of the PNC.

The parties said: "We state publicly that we oppose the passage of this Bill. In the unlikely event that it is pushed through Parliament despite our opposition and warnings, we declare that we shall make its implementation impossible, using all constitutional and legitimate means available.

"If the NPP Government and Party decide to ignore our warnings, they alone shall be responsible for any chaos or instability that would follow from the passage of the this Bill."

Dr Adjei said the nation was going through dangerous times that called for vigilance from all well meaning Ghanaians to protect the 1992 Constitution and the infant democracy.

He said an analysis of the report submitted to Parliament by the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in support of the passage of the Bill was grossly misleading and simply, did not stand up to scrutiny.

The bulk of the report, according to the Minority Parties, was devoted to strange recitation of highly selective and irrelevant facts about countries with Diaspora Voting Rights.

"Even on the face of it, the sparse information presented does not argue for Diaspora voting....The Committee tells us that out of the over 200 countries in the world only 57 allow their citizens abroad to vote during elections."

Dr Adjei said the logical conclusion from the report indicated that Diaspora voting was overwhelmingly unpopular yet the Government wanted to ignore the signals and pass the Bill to fulfil its grand design to perpetuate itself in government.

Dr Adjei reminded democratic stakeholders of the importance of maintaining the credibility of Ghana's electoral system, stating "the Bill, if enacted and implemented, would almost certainly undermine public confidence in the country's electoral system".

He maintained that the suggestion in the report to appoint Ghana's Mission abroad as electoral authorities was fraught with danger as most of the High Commissioners and Ambassadors were staunch party loyalists rather than civil servants.

He explained that most of the mission staff lacked both the expertise and the neutrality required to conduct contentious processes like elections, "and many Ghanaians would reject elections results declared by Ghana's High Commissioners or Ambassadors".

Dr Adjei renewed the appeal of the Minority Parties to the media, civil society organisations, organised labour, Members of Parliament, Electoral Commission, governance institutions and development partners to force the Government to withdraw the Bill.

Responding to questions from the media, Alhaji Ramadan, who chaired the press conference explained that the Minority was not against Ghanaians living abroad but on the contrary loved them.

"We are only against an obnoxious Bill intended to destroy the nation....

"If we allow this Bill to go through, you may not be able to come home, even if you should come, you will come and meet a country plunged into crisis as a result of elections...our Sub-Region has been a fertile ground for electoral disputes being settled on the battlefield. Let us save Ghana from going that path."

Among those present were leading member of the parties, including Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Former Vice President and NDC Presidential Candidate in 2000 and 2004 Elections, Mr Kenneth Dzirasah, MP and Former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Kyeretwei Opoku and Ms Emelia Arthur, General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary of the NRP and Gabriel Pwamang, General Secretary of PNC. Others were Mr Ofori-Atta, EGLE Chairman, a large contingent of minority Members of Parliament and a cross-section of party supporters. 24 Jan. 06