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04.03.2006 General News

Religious Leaders working on ROPA


Accra, March 4, GNA - The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Nuhu Sharabutu, has referred the concerns of the minority group in Parliament on the Representation of the Peoples Amendment Act (ROPA) to the Ghana Conference of Religions for Peace (GCRP) for mediation.

Mr Gato Mohammed, a representative of the Chief Imam, told journalists at a meeting with the Minority in Accra on Saturday, that Muslim leaders took a serious view of the issues raised by the group and belonging to GCRP, it found it prudent to refer the matter to the body. The conference of religions for peace constitutes the leaders of the Orthodox, Charismatic, Pentecostal and Protestant Churches among other religious bodies.

The conference is working seriously on the next move with regards to the Act to ensure that the views of the Minority was given attention to remove the tension it was brewing.

Mr Mohammed indicated at the time the Minority group called on the National Chief Imam, the President had already given his assent to the Bill making it a law however but considering the importance of the issues raised a decision was taken to find remedy to the problem. "When the issue was tabled before the conference they took a serious note of it particularly about the tension it created every passing moment," saying "there is the need to jaw-jaw to find a lasting solution to the impasse," he said.

He said that at a meeting with the Majority and Minority leaders of Parliament it was clear that opposite perceptions, clash of interest, mistrust, the absent of frankness and lack of the spirit of give and take between the majority and minority parties was the main cause of the disagreement.

Mr Mohammed stressed that in the interest of peace, it was agreed that everything must be done to build a bridge over the gap between the parties.

Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) speaking to the GNA said the law was a bad one and must be repealed, adding speculations that nothing could be done about it was not true as in the days of the NDC, the VAT was repealed after series of pressure and demonstrations by the then Minority. "The signing does not put up any difficulty in throwing it away, it is just a matter of using certificate of emergency to deal with it," he said.

He said the IFC loan was dropped after heated debates but the same process was not exhausted in the case of ROPAB rather the Majority took a straight jacket decision to push it.

Mr Asidu-Nketiah said the argument that nationals abroad should be allowed to exercise their rights due to the increase in the remittances they sent into the country was "neither here nor there" as that was contribution made to relations and not into government chest. He said rights go with responsibility and that if government would register those living abroad to pay taxes as those living in the country, then it was fair to advance their case.

Mr E T Mensah, MP for Ningo-Prampram, said if government was democratic then it should call for a referendum for the people to speak for themselves, adding that, it should not use its majority to arrogate powers to exclude the vast majority of the people.

He said with 48 Missions out of the 212 countries in the world, it is clear some people would be refused their rights, saying it is practically impossible to conduct election in all these countries. Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, Acting Chairman of the Peoples National Convention (PNC), urged the government to be democratic on ROPA by ensuring that there was total consensus to foster national cohesion.