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General News of Friday, 21 February 2020


6 reasons the Minority staged a walkout before Akufo-Addo’s address

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu

The Minority in Parliament has detailed why they walked out of the House when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was just about to deliver his 4th State of the Nation Address.

Few days to the presentation, the side announced the intent to boycott the occasion citing the delay of their share of the Common Fund for the third quarter of 2019 as the reason.

They argued that the undue delay was a deliberate attempt to deprive them of working effectively and consequently competing fairly with their opponents, especially when the general election is some months away.

Right after the National Anthem was sang, the side walked out while chorusing the line ‘and help us to resist oppressors rule with all our will and might forever more'.

At a press conference addressed by the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, the side said their action goes beyond the delay of the Common Fund.

Below are the 6 spotlights:

1. Akufo-Addo is a tyrant

The Minority said President Akufo-Addo who was democratically elected has thrown democratic principles away and embraced tyranny.

“Since becoming President of our republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has conducted the affairs of state with the kind of tyranny, despotism and authoritarianism that frightens many objective observers.

“We have in the face of extreme provocation exercised restraint and urged the president to depart from his perilous path that puts the democracy of our country at great risk.

“Sadly, matters are totally out of control. The democracy we all toiled and sacrificed to establish is now threatened by the highhandedness of President Akufo-Addo. The man who in opposition styled himself as a champion democrat has turned out to be a nightmare and an existential threat to our fledgling democracy.”

2. Refusal to implement Short Commission report

The Minority is not happy about the president’s reluctance in implementing the recommendations of the Emile Short Commission. The four-member commission was formed by the president to investigate the cause(s) of violence that marred the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in January 2019 and make recommendations.

Presenting the report to President Akufo-Addo, on Thursday, 14th March, 2019, the Chairperson of the Commission, Justice Emile Short, was confident the president “will find these findings and recommendations useful in shaping reforms for the future”.

But government few months later said the Commission failed to present an impartial report, hence cannot accept the whole findings of the commission.

“As we speak, the President has refused to implement the recommendations of the Emile Short Commission following the state sponsored terrorism that occurred during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in January 2019. The President continues to shield his indicted appointees as he even confers on them more authority to perpetrate mayhem ahead of the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections,” the Minority said.

“Contrary to the Emile Short Commission recommendation, President Akufo-Addo has blatantly refused to disband the illegal SWAT team which has been populated by known hoodlums belonging to his vigilante groups.

“Many more of these blood thirsty hoodlums continue to be trained at national security installations and are being armed ahead of the 2020 elections.”

3. Removal of Charlotte Osei as Electoral Commission chairperson

On June 28, 2018, president Akufo-Addo removed the Electoral Commissioner Charlotte Osei and her two deputies from office for “misbehaviour and incompetence.” The decision was on the recommendation of a committee set up by the Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo to investigate alleged acts of corruption, misconduct and misbehaviour by the three commissioners.

However, the Minority sees this move as a part of the plans of the government to rig the 2020 elections.

“President Akufo-Addo goes down in history as the only President in the Fourth Republic to supervise the cruel removal of Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Madam Charlotte Osei. That conduct in infamy appears to have paved the way for an elaborate scheme to rig the 2020 elections by compiling a new Voters Register,” they said.

4. Compilation of new voter register

The decision of the Electoral Commission to compile a new voter register for this year’s elections has since the announcement been opposed by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The commission has reiterated the decision to have a new register is not intended to cheat or disenfranchise anyone, insisting that it will be vindicated at the end of the day.

NDC however is of the view that the register is credible. Former president and presidential candidate for the NDC John Dramani Mahama kicked against the move, stressing that the time left for the general election is woefully inadequate to undertake the exercise hence the EC should not “do anything that will bring chaos.”

Regardless, the EC remains resolute. For the NDC, the posture of the EC is preposterous.

They said: “Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu let the cat out of the bag when he stated emphatically that if the NPP was successful in compiling a new Voters Register, the NDC will never come back to power. One wonders how a register that brought the NDC to power in 2012 and the NPP to power in 2016 can suddenly become so discredited in the eyes of the NPP if not for the sinister agenda exposed inadvertently by the Majority Leader.

“The Akufo-Addo-led Government in cahoots with the Jean Mensah-led Electoral Commission remains intransigent despite overwhelming public opposition including from a strong coalition of Civil Society Organisations and Political Parties. We cannot help but agree with the US State Department Human Rights report which has raised concerns of possible voter suppression in opposition strongholds as the real intention for the needless and wasteful new Voters Register.

5. Attacks on journalists, media houses

The Minority during their press confab explained that the Akufo-Addo-led government is frustrating some pro NDC media houses and journalists. They argued that the incessant quest to cripple media freedom is repugnant.

“Under President Akufo-Addo's watch, media freedoms and free expression have come under unprecedented attack. The Government has still not found the killers of investigative journalist, Ahmed Hussain-Suale who was assassinated in cold blood. Despite demands from the international community for action, he refuses to speak to the matter and no updates on investigations have been provided. Many journalists continue to be attacked, with others having to seek refuge outside the jurisdiction.

“His Government continues to close down Radio stations particularly those with affiliation to his political opponents. Only last week, his administration after the Gestapo closures of Radio Gold and Radio XYZ, and many others, closed down Radio Tongu and Fox FM, Takoradi in the most bizarre of circumstances.

On May 5, 2019, the National Communications Authority shut down Radio Gold 90.5 FM and Radio XYZ 93.1 FM.

A statement issued the NCA said the Authority shut down radio stations operating without valid authorisations.

6. Demolition of factories at Trade Fair Centre

Last Sunday, the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited (GTFCL) demolished some factories at the Trade Fair Centre to pave way for the redevelopment project. The demolition was carried out between 10pm and 12am. One of the affected Raymond Archer who was once a journalist and linked to the NDC said he had served GTFCL a stay of execution but the outfit went ahead to carry out the exercise.

He argued that he was being targeted because of his supposed affiliation to the NDC – a claim the GTFCL refuted.

But the NDC is not convinced.

“The growing culture of impunity and the tyranny that has reached alarming proportions was once again on the prowl when agents of National Security demolished businesses belonging to Ghanaians in the private sector located at the Ghana Trade Fair Site at dawn under the cover of darkness. Not even notice was served on the owners to take out their valuables ahead of the barbaric demolition. We are not in any doubt that the cruel nature of the demolishing which has been justified by the President's appointees and spokespersons was targeted at former award-winning journalist, Raymond Archer who many in this administration have not forgiven for his incisive and explosive investigative pieces of yesteryears.”