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General News of Friday, 23 August 2013

Source: The Herald

Six days to Supreme Court verdict; Aircrafts fully booked

The Herald newspaper has gathered that traders in most major markets in the city of Accra have been gripped by fear and panic as a result of a deliberate rumour mongering by some unpatriotic elements.

The wild rumour are forcing the traders especially women who are rushing to banks where they save, making huge withdrawals with claims that they have been told there is going to be a “war” after next week’s Supreme Court verdict on the election petition.

Yet another shocking information is that most international airlines operating in the country for six weeks now, are fully booked and have no room for prospective travelers. Indeed, American airliner, Delta Air Lines, The Herald is informed is surprisingly charging twice its original fare.

It is unclear whether this situation was what forced the American Embassy in Ghana to warn its citizens in a circular to be careful ahead of the Supreme Court judgment, six days away.

But The Herald’s impeccable sources inside the Ghana Immigration Service and at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) have also told this paper that the rate of the departures from Ghana, especially by expatriates, have increased astronomically, but arrival rate dropped significantly over a month and a half ago.

Most of the expatriate travelers are said to be boarding Emirates Airlines transiting to Europe in particular.

A Lebanese national who spoke to The Herald confirmed some of his colleagues have travelled out of Ghana with their families for normal holidays, but will soon be back as soon as school reopens in two weeks time. He said there is panic among the Lebanese nationals in Ghana.

In the case of the banks, officials are complaining that the rate of deposits from the market women have drastically reduced while the rate of withdrawals have increased to an unprecedented level.

The traders are claiming that they have been informed that when war breaks out, they will lose their monies in the bank hence they will rather withdraw and keep them safe so that in case nothing happens after the Supreme Court verdict, they shall return with their moneys.

Badly affected are some majors banks with branches located in the markets. Also hit are Savings and Loans companies also located at trading hubs such as Makola, Agbogbloshie, Okaishie and Kantamanto all in Accra.

Both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) command huge following in the various markets, but it is again unclear which of the two political parties could be causing the fear and panic among the traders.

Officials of prominent intercontinental bank told The Herald, the traders making the huge withdrawals openly tell them, they were going to either change these sums into US dollars or dig holes under their bedrooms and hide them; a rather ridiculous position.

Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor has, meanwhile, downplayed claims that the presidential election petition challenging the Electoral Commission’s declaration of John Mahama as the winner of the 2012 presidential election has exacerbated political tensions in the country.

He said, passionate political discourse had become a part of Ghana’s democratic culture, and that should be seen as a positive development.

Speaking to Metro TV on Wednesday, the former Ghanaian leader expressed confidence that the nation will remain peaceful after the ruling on the petition by the panel of nine judges adjudicating the matter.

The court has set Thursday, August 29, 2013, as “Judgment Day” in the petition which was filed by three leading members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – Nana Akufo-Addo, 2012 presidential candidate, his running mate; Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, National Chairman.

Mr. Kufuor, however, appealed to the petitioners and respondents to accept whatever judgment the justices will announce, and hope for another opportunity to contest for the presidency in the 2016 general elections.

Meanwhile, the former president has re-echoed his call for prayers for the justices in order for them to give a fair judgment.

“What I prefer is we should all pray for the justices so that there will be peace in Ghana after the court verdict,” JAK said.

Both President John Dramani Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo, 2012 presidential candidate of the NPP, last Wednesday, also agreed to meet before the Supreme Court delivers judgment on the election petition.

The meeting, which is at the instance of the other presidential aspirants in the 2012 general elections, is to afford the two gentlemen, the opportunity to demonstrate to their supporters that they are united, irrespective of the verdict, and help prepare the grounds for its acceptance by the grassroots.

The president’s protocol office is to communicate the venue, date and time of the meeting to the parties concerned.

This came to light when five presidential aspirants in the 2012 election called on President Mahama at his residence to deliver a message of solidarity and to assure him of their commitment to upholding democracy under the rule of law.

The five – Jacob OseiYeboah, 2012 Independent Presidential candidate, Kwasi Addae (Odike), United Front Party(UFP), Hassan Ayariga, People’s National Convention (PNC), Henry Lartey, Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and Abu Sakara, Convention People’s Party (CPP) had earlier met with Nana Addo to express the same sentiments.

The solidarity message, read by Mr. Osei-Yeboah, said: “It would be in the national interest if both of you will demonstrate to Ghanaians that both of you are ready to accept the verdict by sitting together in a meeting with us.”

The message proposed follow-up actions after the Supreme Court ruling such as the issuing of an unequivocal public statement by President Mahama and Nana Addo immediately after the court’s verdict.

It also called for the constitution of a multi-party committee of eminent political figures to have oversight for needed electoral reforms and the need to budget for and support implementation of any needed electoral reforms, so that they are completed by 2015, well ahead of the 2016 general elections.

The solidarity message advocated an action plan to achieve broader representation in government, beginning with the engagement of former presidential aspirants in consultative discussions on national issues to build a broader national consensus.

“We believe these actions and others that you may wish to discuss will help to restore our national life to normalcy as quickly as possible,” Mr. Osei-Yeboah stated.

“We also assure you of our willingness to condemn without exception any recalcitrant elements that may seek to undermine or reject the Court’s decision by any acts of commission or omission,” he added.

President Mahama congratulated the former presidential hopefuls on their noble mission noting that there had been all kinds of predictions by doomsayers about the verdict and stated confidently that Ghana’s democracy would survive the court’s verdict.

“Ghanaians have too much at stake in the destiny of the nation to destroy it at this time, I believe in Ghana, and I believe in peace. “I don’t think there will be any major disturbances, but I have asked the security agencies to come up with contingency plans to contain any situation,” the president stressed.

He noted that Ghanaians went to a referendum in 1992 and accepted to be ruled in accordance to its dictates, therefore, all should abide by the decision of the final arbiter- the Supreme Court.

The president reiterated his support for all-inclusiveness in governance and expressed his willingness to work with and seeking the counseling of the presidential aspirants on the way forward for the nation.

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