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Press Review of Saturday, 4 February 2006

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

EDITORIAL: Caution, Please!

The beauty of democracy, it is said, lies in the freedom to make choices; choices that allow a people to decide who their leaders and representatives should be, as well as what policies and laws should govern their destiny, in order to advance their aspirations.

It is by virtue of the impracticability of getting all the people assembled in one hall, for the purposes of taking decisions, that people are elected as Members of Parliament (MPs).

It is therefore expected that decisions taken by the privileged few, who get the mandate of the people, would generally reflect the interests of the citizenry.

Whereas decisions taken under such democratic arrangements are generally by a majority, this does not suggests that the majority would always be right in its decisions.

In a parliament that is not unnecessarily polarized along partisan lines, decisions taken could be assumed to reflect the considered opinions of the people's representatives.

Unfortunately, Ghana's parliament has not left anyone in doubt that its members cannot be relied upon to take independent decisions.

It is generally understandable that members of the ruling party, because they initiate bills, would agree on issues, since most of such issues are informed by their party's manifesto, on which they themselves had campaigned to represent their people.

However, with those in parties whose centers cannot hold, it becomes difficult to determine what influences their decisions, since you hear their party's singing one song, whilst they sing another.

Yesterday, there was another standoff in Parliament between the majority and minority, over the Representation of the People's Amendment Bill, which is meant to expand the voting field to foreign lands to allow for Ghanaians abroad to exercise their franchise where they are.

Apart from the MPs and political parties, several Ghanaians, both within and without the borders, have raised several arguments, either in support of or against the bill.

There are many Ghanaians who have, long before the conception of the people's representation amendment bill, kept pushing for the passage of bills like the Whistleblowers, Freedom of Information, Disability, and Domestic Violence.

Some of the questions that are being raised call for a pause in the rush to ram through the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill.

It is widely acknowledged that electoral disputes, particularly in Africa, have tended to lay the foundation for the several conflicts that have bedeviled the continent.

The Chronicle had previously raised caution about the dangers inherent in doing anything that would breed suspicion and distrust over the integrity of our elections.

We therefore, once again, even as the controversial bill is being fast-tracked, call on the people entrusted with the responsibility of taking decisions, to do that responsibly.

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