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General News of Monday, 18 February 2008

Source: GNA

Coalition calls for immediate passage of Right to Information Bill

Accra, Feb. 18, GNA - The Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI), Ghana on Monday called on President John Agyekum Kufuor to make good his promise on the passage of the RTI Bill into law. "The Coalition maintains its urgent call to President Kufuor to, without any further delay, hasten the passage of the RTI Bill into law," a statement signed by Nana Oye Lithur of the Coalition Secretariat said. The statement said that RTI was a constitutional right of Ghanaians as provided in Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution.

It noted that as early as 2005, President Kufuor promised in his State of the Nation Address to ensure the passage of the RTI Bill into law that year to operationalize that constitutional right. Despite government's promises, Ghana still had no legislation on RTI, the Coalition said, adding that, President Kufuor "conspicuously excluded" the RTI from his final State of the Nation address to Parliament last week.

"One would expect that President Kufuor in his professed commitment to democratic, transparent and accountable governance would pass the RTI law to fulfil these aspirations but sadly, this has not been the case. "This omission once again registers this as another failed promise by President Kufuor and the President owes it to Ghanaians to explain why he failed to provide any policy direction in his State of the Nation Address on the passage of the RTI law."

The statement noted that the excuse about lack of appropriate infrastructure for enforcing the RTI law could no longer justify the delay, saying that, the Coalition asserts that there are structures in place to facilitate the enforcement of the law when passed. It said in sidelining the RTI it was feared that it would reflect poorly on President Kufuor's legacy, adding that, in assessing President Kufuor's achievements, the RTI law would be a priority in the public's consideration.

The Coalition therefore urged government to pass the RTI Bill into law to deal with corruption and empower citizens to hold politicians and public officers to account.

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