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General News of Thursday, 14 February 2008

Source: ADM

Bartels To Step Down

The Minister of the Interior and Member of Parliament for Ablekuma North, Mr. Kwamena Bartels, has said he will not contest the parliamentary seat when his tenure ends this year. Mr. Bartels, who is considered to be one of the stalwarts of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been a Member of Parliament of his constituency for the past 12years.

Speaking at a ceremony to distribute NHIS cards, which he paid for to some members of his constituency, Mr. Bartels said, “Nipa be ye bi na wa meye neyinaa”.

Strangely, his declaration received thunderous applause and praises from the packed auditorium of Glory Land Hotel, where the event took place. Even though the executives of the party in the constituency, he said, had been informed of his future plans, they are yet to organize or hold any meeting to determine who would be succeeding him.

“But I tell you, whoever is elected, I will give him or her my full support”, he said.

Since the NPP came to power in 2001, he has held important portfolios including Minister of Information, Minister of Works and Housing, Minister of Private Sector Development and now the Minister of the Interior.

Mr. Bartel’s “retirement” would be a blow to the NPP as he is regarded as one of the most electable members of the party. Already, Mr. Fritz Baffour of the NDC is throwing his hat into the Ablekuma constituency, originally hoping to confront Mr. Bartels.

Mr. Bartels is not the only high profile MP of the ruling party relinquishing his seat. Other well known names, mostly MP’s who lost in their presidential bid are also thinking of relinquishing their seats.

Presidential Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo’s Abuakwa constituency is up for grabs and it is rumoured that intense jockeying by the likes of Ataa Akyea, Nana Fredua Agyemang and Nana Bediatuo is already on.

“It’s a blow to the party, as we need them for the battle now than ever…You can consider some to be old, but they still have the popularity to win back seats for the party and that is the important thing”, an NPP party activist said to ADM after Mr. Bartels declaration.

Mr. Bartels told the the press that, he decided to help register people for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) because his constituency recorded the lowest NHIS registration in the Greater Accra Region last year.

“So I decided to register 630 people, so that they can get access to healthcare”. His selection, he said was not based on party affiliation.

“I am on NPP’s ticket but I am MP for all the people in my constituency…We made sure that those who cannot afford are assisted”, he said. The Ablekuma North MP said he will continue to register more people “because health is important”.

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