General News of Tuesday, 30 October 2012
A lecturer at the GIMPA Law School, Ernest Kofi Abotsi says the IEA’s decision to limit the presidential debate to party’s with representation in parliament is discriminatory.
He argues that though the IEA is a private entity, since it is engaging in a public venture, it is under obligation to uphold the constitutional provisions on similar treatment to avoid discrimination.
“Since what the IEA is engaging in now is of public significance and therefore opens to the public, the IEA cannot, so to speak, discriminate against any candidate who is qualified according to a certain set criteria.”
He told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story Tuesday, an hour before the debate in Tamale, that even if the IEA had come out with any criteria for the event, people ought to find out “if it is justifiable, whether the criteria is objective and across the board, and whether the criteria is not individually targeted”.
Mr Abotsi entreated the IEA to revised their criteria to ensure that other parties as well as independent candidates are not deprived the opportunity to share their policies with the electorate.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Progressive Peoples’ Party (PPP) Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom is challenging his exclusion on constitutional grounds.
The party’s Deputy National Secretary Paa Kow Ackon said since the party has not contested any election before, there was no way it was going to have a representation in parliament, and has therefore criticized the IEA’s criteria.
He said if the debate would deny people who support Nduom the opportunity to listen to his positions on various policies; the party may consider taking legal action against the IEA.
“If by virtue of organizing such a debate it is going to deny millions of people who support Dr Nduom or would want to hear from him the opportunity for him to also present his ideas and opportunity to this country; if it becomes necessary we will take a legal action. Because if you do this you deny millions of people the opportunity to listen to equally important and qualify presidential candidates.”
But a research fellow with the IEA, Ransford Gyampo said the rules used in the 2008 debate, which Dr Nduom participated on the ticket of the Convention People’s Party without complaining, have not been changed, stating that there are many reasons why the other parties were excluded.
He made reference to the US presidential debate where the Commission on presidential debate restricts the debate to only two parties in spite of the many registered parties there.
However, Mr Gyampo said the IEA appreciates the concerns being raised by the PPP and remarked: “We would have loved to have him and all other parties on board but for logistical constraint and all that, we are unable to bring all of them.”