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General News of Wednesday, 29 November 2000

Source: GNA

IEA frustrated and disappointed at withdrawals from forum

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) says it is disappointed at the withdrawal of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) from Wednesday night's Presidential forum but added that the event will come on all the same.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, Professor J.S. Djangmah, a fellow of the IEA, said they are frustrated at the trend of affairs at this late hour. Professor George Hagan of the Convention People's Party (CPP) is also another doubtful participant. "We are disappointed and frustrated at the changes to the programme at this late hour," Prof. Djangmah said.

'We thought this was a good opportunity for the people to see their candidates again and hear them speak on some pertinent issues about their welfare. We also thought with time, it will become a conventional thing, making our democracy more functional and accessible."

Prof. Djangmah said the IEA is aware of the busy schedule of the candidates but the debate is also necessary for the people and that they should have attended. "The have the right to decide how to run their campaigns but we thought this was also another way to make our democracy stronger," he said.

The debate will now have two journalists asking a total of three questions to each candidate. Each answer by a particular candidate will be commented on by the other two. The Presidential debate is fashioned on the US Presidential Debate where candidates outline their programme and how they intend to govern the country if voted into office.

The NDC said their presidential candidate, Vice President John Atta Mills, would not attend because Mr John Agyekum Kufuor of the NPP has pulled out. In 1996, President Jerry Rawlings of the NDC won 57 per cent of the votes in the first round to defeat Mr Kufuor and several other candidates. The NDC won 133 seats in the 200-member parliament.