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General News of Monday, 20 November 2000

Source: GNA

President criticises National Media Commission

President Jerry Rawlings on Saturday said the ability of the National Media Commission (NMC) to adjudicate media conduct is disappointing, expressing regret that the commission has not brought order into the conduct of media practitioners.

Many people have made serious libellous statements and told lies about others on radio especially and got away with it even though the Media Commission is supposed to check these things, the President said.

"This must not be allowed to happen as it has the potential of bringing misunderstanding and chaos to our peaceful country," he said.

President Rawlings was speaking at a rally of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at Cape Coast to end a four-day campaign tour by Vice President John Evans Atta Mills, presidential candidate of the party.

President Rawlings described the NMC as "the most disappointing and disgraceful institution since the inception of political party democracy in the country."

He said the members should change their attitude and ensure that everybody who abuses the freedom democracy offers is brought to book.

President Rawlings referred to the incident at a FM Station at Berekum in the Brong Ahafo Region and urged the commission to take swift action to restore order on the airwaves to ensure peace.

The Brong Ahafo authorities closed down the station after an alleged statement by a parliamentary candidate caused a free-for-all-fight that led to serious injuries to NDC members.

"We will ensure that all those involved in that incident are prosecuted," President Rawlings said, noting that he would push for a change in the constitution that will ensure respect for high office holders.

He commended the action of the Regional Security Council in closing down the station saying it was the right step.

He said the liberalisation of the airwaves and the media in general must not be a licence to disrupt the country's young democracy.

President Rawlings said Ghana is a shining example of development and progress in Africa and must be encouraged to make a greater impact.

He described the decision of Captain Nkreabea Effah-Dartey, the NPP candidate for Berekum, to defend Corporal Foday Sankoh, the Sierra Leone rebel leader as a disgrace to Ghana.

"How can anyone in his right frame of mind choose to defend someone who wilfully killed and maimed babies, children, women and his own men?" he asked. "It was a good decision we took to dismiss him from the army," the President said.

President Rawlings said Ghana is going through hard times, "but so is the whole world".

"We are doing our best to move out of the situation. I have given my life to this nation and will not sit by to see people destroy the yardage we have gained over the 20 year period".

He said: "the NDC is not here to play deceptive politics as is the stock in trade of the opposition. Ghana has fallen down too often at the hands of the opposition and we must not allow this to happen again".

He thanked Ghanaians for standing by him over the years and asked them to return the NDC to power by not less than 67 per cent of the votes in the December elections.

Mr Martin Amidu, the presidential running mate, said the NDC is not anti-workers as claimed by the opposition.

"Rather it was the United Party, where the NPP draws its roots and support, that banned the Trades Union Congress. This country has it on record."

On members of the party who are contesting as independent candidates, Mr Amidu said it was impossible for such a trend to be allowed.

"No independent candidate should say he is an NDC member...You have to be under the party and its rules to belong to it."