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General News of Saturday, 22 October 2016


Mahama’s debate request ‘dead on arrival’ – Kweku Baako

President John Mahama’s call to engage opposition leader Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a debate will serve no purpose in the current circumstances, Abdul-Malik Kweku Baako, editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide, has said.

Mr Mahama has recently communicated his desire to debate Mr Akufo Addo to contest some claims of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flag bearer on his campaigns, which he says are untrue.

But the veteran journalist believed that given the “circumstances”, “sequence of events”, and “timing”, the president’s request is a non-starter.

He referred to the governing NDC’s refusal to participate in this year’s presidential debate organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) as a point.

The IEA had announced that in addition to holding evening encounters and two debates for presidential candidates, it was, in response to “overwhelming public enthusiasm” for a straight debate between the NPP and NDC, introducing a new format which would see the two main contenders in the race – President Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo – in a one-to-one debate.

However, the NDC, led by its General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, labelled the IEA’s novelty to “a public show of disrespect”, what with its exclusion of minor political parties, and subsequently called for a “public apology” from the IEA.

These developments, according to Mr Baako, make Mr Mahama’s call for a one-on-one debate pointless.

“The president’s call for a one-on-one debate with Nana Addo…was dead on arrival, completely dead on arrival,” he said on Multi TV’s Newsfile on Saturday October 22, 2016.

He said even with the disqualification by the Electoral Commission (EC) of some 12 presidential aspirants from the 2016 polls, there are two other candidates in the contest aside from the two main contenders, and wondered if Mr Mahama’s call for a one-on-one debate now would not amount to discrimination as his party had raised with the IEA’s idea of a similar format.

He asked: “What has changed that now the leader of the NDC, our president, will be calling for a one-to-one? The other political parties are dead and gone? Are they still around? Are they insignificant? Will that not be discriminatory? Where is the principle, where is the consistency? Where is the conviction?”

Mr Baako also rejected the excuse that the president was calling for such a debate to take the opposition leader on for some ‘untruths’ peddled by him and wondered why a debate should be sanctioned between the “two giants” over only a few issues.

“A debate must be on all the issues, but he has singled out the motivation,” Mr Baako added, wondering why Mr Mahama turned down the IEA’s offer, which would still have presented him with the opportunity to take his main opponent on.