Presidential debates slated for October, November

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA Ghana) has fixed October 15 and November 12 for the Northern and Southern sector Election 2008 Presidential debates respectively. Tamale would host the Northern Sector debate, while Accra hosts the Southern sector, the IEA said on Tuesday.

The Debates form part of the Institute's efforts to deepen and consolidate multiparty democracy and promote issue based campaigns during the Election 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary process. In a statement signed by Mrs. Jean Mensa, IEA Ghana Administrator to the Ghana News Agency, IEA said the debate, unlike the "Evening Encounter" with flag bearers of political parties would be open to all presidential candidates.

She said the Presidential Debates would provide a forum for the candidates to come together on a single platform to dialogue and discuss their visions, policies and programmes to enable the electorate to make an informed choice as to who should govern the nation.

Mrs. Mensa described the flag bearers who have emerged so far as personalities who were fairly well-known to the Ghanaian electorate.

"What is not so well-known is what they stand for and how they intend to govern the country if elected to the high office of the Presidency.

"The Presidential Debate will therefore introduce an issue-driven approach and dimension to the electioneering campaign to enable the campaign to move away from one of personalities, acrimony, insults and attacks which have become the norm of African electoral campaigns." Mrs. Mensa said the Debate would also serve as a form of Policy Dialogue engagement at which the flag bearers would present their own viewpoints on issues and their own policies and programmes and point out weaknesses and flaws in the other flag bearers' policies and programmes and present alternatives to those policies and programmes. She said Election 2008 Presidential Debates would be unique from previous debates facilitated by the IEA in that it would be in two parts.

The first part would consist of a questionnaire which had been administered to the flag bearers for their written responses. Questions cut across key policy issues received from various organisations such as the Trades Unions Congress, Ghana Medical Association, Ghana Employers' Association, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Ghana National Traders and Dressmakers Association, Ghana National Association of Teachers, Ghana Registered Nurses Association, Women in Law and Development in Africa, National Union of Ghana Students, National Association of Local Authorities, Ghana Bar Association, and Ghana Federation of the Disabled.

The rest are the Association of Ghana Industries, ActionAid, Private Enterprise Foundation, Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Ghana Hairdressers and Beauticians Association.

She said the Institute would compile the responses from the flag bearers into a pamphlet and circulate them nationwide. Their responses will also be published in the newspapers. This, the IEA believed, would further stimulate and provoke debate and discussion of the policy issues raised.

The second part consists of two live debates to be organised in Tamale and Accra at which two moderators would pose questions to the flag bearers. The debates would be covered live on major radio and television networks throughout the country and on the internet. The debates will also be covered by the international press.



Four "New" Ministers sworn into office

President John Agyekum Kufuor on Wednesday swore into office four new Ministers and demanded from them hard work and dedicated service to assist him to end his tenure on a high note.

"You should work with me to satisfy the development needs of the people of Ghana, to prove that we are a Government of excellence," he said.

Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, the Interior Minister, Mr. Felix Owusu-Adjepong, Minister of Energy and Papa Owusu Ankomah, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Presidential Special Initiative (PSI, were all former senior Ministers, who resigned their positions to seek the presidential nomination of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the upcoming December polls.

Mr. Kwabena Mensah-Bonsu, Minister of State in the Office of the President, on the other hand, served as Ghana's Ambassador to Togo. President Kufuor repeated the Government's resolve to work with relentless zeal until the last day in office and said he was confident he could count of their support.
He drew attention to the challenges the new Ministers, individually would have to address.
To Dr. Addo-Kufuor, he said, his expectation was that within the short time, he would work to streamline and help to raise the image of the country's Police Service.

The Service, he noted, was a good one with good personnel but, its public image, unfortunately, had not been the best and asked the Minister, who for seven years headed the Defence Ministry, to do everything possible to help polish it. Additionally, priority should be given to the fight against the drug menace.

Mr. Owusu-Adjepong, on his part, was reminded of the new character energy was assuming in the country following the discovery of oilfields in commercial quantities of world class quality, and asked him to pilot the necessary laws and regulatory mechanisms to ensure transparency and efficiency in the management of the resource.

Again, President Kufuor said, he should apply himself to the task of ensuring a cut back on the inefficiencies, especially on the supply side of power generation.

Touching on the PSIs, he observed that the nation was yet to fully appreciate the importance of these interventions. He said through them, the country should be able to launch the diversification of its economy and that this was something, Papa Owusu Ankomah would have to work on with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

President Kufuor recognized Mr Mensah-Bonsu's distinguished service as Ambassador and asked him to remain totally loyal to help him to accomplish what was left of his tenure.

Responding on behalf of his colleague Ministers, Dr Addo-Kufuor said they were aware of the success story of the Government and pledged to serve well to and leave behind an enviable legacy.