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General News of Friday, 28 October 2016

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Evading Presidential debate is setting back Ghana’s democracy - Prof Gyampo

A renowned political scientist is rooting for a public debate between presidential aspirants, surmising that without a healthy debate of ideas between contestants of the December polls Ghana’s democratic advancement will suffer a setback.

Professor Ransford Gyampo says since 2000 presidential candidates have engaged in a public debate prior to elections, wondering why there is a “surreptitious attempt by political elites” to break the trend.

The Senior Political Science Lecturer and Director of the Centre for European Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon said the public debate is important because it serves as a foundation for the country’s quest for issues-based politics.

“We cannot achieve [issues-based politics] unless we have a healthy contest of ideas on an independent and credible platform where [the presidential candidates] know that they will be subjected to strict proof of whatever they say; where people know that they cannot lie,” he said.

He was speaking on PM Express on the Joy News channel on Multi TV, Thursday evening.

Professor Gyampo was commenting on a challenge that was thrown by President John Mahama to opposition presidential contest, Nana Akufo-Addo. Nana Akufo-Addo has declined the challenge thrwon at him, explaining that the move by the President was just propaganda.

Related: Akufo-Addo will not debate a ‘flip-flop’ President – Hamid However, speaking on PM Express, Professor Gyampo suggested that the President’s challenged must be taken up in earnest.

“On partisan rallies, you can go and hurl insults, you can go and say all manner of things and your supporters will support you but on a debate platform, you will be subjected to strict proof.

“Debate is good because it promotes the discussion of issues within the body politic instead of insults; debate is very good because it provides an accountability mechanism,” he said.

Professor Gyampo also said the debate is good because it contributes to lowering political tension that always peaks to the lead up to elections.

“Seeing presidential aspirants on one platform engage in a healthy contest of ideas and exchanging pleasantries and smiling and cracking jokes here and there sends a calming down effect to their supporters that after all look at the people we are supporting they are not even fighting,” he said.

He said the debate must come on because it empowers the right of voters’ to the exercise of choice.