General News of Tuesday, 21 February 2006
Source: The Point
The first Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Freddie Blay has rubbished claims by the opposition NDC and its allies that the passage of the Representation of the People Amendment Bill to law would lead this country into possible civil war.
?Those who say they will break up this country if the ROPAB is passed, let them burn it and let us see,? he charged. He said ?notwithstanding that fact these threats are mere bluff. Ghana risks losing potential investors because of bad signals these people are sending out that? adding, ?no patriotic person would like his country to be on flames.?
Speaking to The Point in an interview, the Deputy Speaker who is also the CPP member of parliament for Ellembelle Constituency in the western region noted that Ghanaians in the past were denied of their constitutional right to vote for almost 12 years yet the country did not burn and maintained that an attempt to extend voting rights to Ghanaians should be seen as a further step in the pursuit of democratization. He described the threat as extremely irresponsible in the sense that as a nation, ?we should grow in our handling of divergent views rather than causing panic among the populace.?
According to him, the ROPAB is one of the means to encourage those living abroad to have a sense of belonging and contribute freely to strengthen the economy. In his view ?if this is not done sooner or later some may decide to cut links with their origin and we as a country would lose in terms of investment and remittances to relatives.? It is common knowledge that foreign inflows in terms of remittances that come into the country have soared up over the past few years and remain the third highest source of contribution to the economy.
He debunked the argument that because many Ghanaians live illegally abroad there is no need to extend voting rights to them saying ?due to economic hardship one does not lose the bond and opportunity to choose a government which he believes to make things better for him.?