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General News of Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Source: GNA

Only four Flag bearers to participate in Presidential Debate

Accra, July 9, GNA - The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA Ghana) on Wednesday said only four Flag bearers of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), People's National Convention and the Convention People's Party (CPP) would participate in the two presidential debates fixed for October 15 and November 12. Tamale would host the Northern Sector debate, while Accra hosts the Southern sector.

"Another platform would be created for the other Flag bearers as and when they formally file their candidacy with the Electoral Commission to contest for Election 2008," His Eminence Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson, Catholic Archbishop of Cape Coast, chairman of the Presidential Debate Committee (PDC) stated in Accra.

Cardinal Turkson who spelt a 17-point Presidential Debate Condition (PDC) said the four Flag bearers would answer the same questions from professional bodies and other interested groups. Then after the first round of questions, each Flag bearer would have the opportunity of answering new questions.

He said each of the four Flag bearers would be given three minutes to introduce himself and to outline what he stands for, two minutes to answer questions, and five minutes to make closing statements. The questions, according to the PDC chairman would be arranged thematically in the different areas of the economy, governance, social and general issues.

He said, to avoid needless controversy and perceptions of bias, all the four aspirants would be on the same platform to answer questions from two moderators and would be give an opportunity to critique each others policies.

Other conditions include a ballot for the seating arrangement and answering of questions, arrival of the Flag bearers thirty minutes before the commencement time, and no substitute would be allowed to speak or make presentation on behalf of a Flag bearer. The IEA noted that each Flag bearer would be given only 15 invitation cards, which would include security details and attendance to both debates would be strictly by invitation.

The invited guests would include representatives of various associations, senior statesmen and women, members of the business community, senior media personnel, development partners, academia and students.

Meanwhile, the minority political parties have expressed disquiet about the modality used by the IEA to deny them the opportunity to sell their policies to the electorate.

The Democratic Freedom Party, New Vision Party, Democratic Peoples Party and Great Consolidated Popular Party - said the IEA Encounter, designed to enable only flag bearers of political parties with representation in Parliament to outline their visions, was discriminatory.

In separate interviews with Ghana News Agency, leading members of the parties, while commending the IEA for the initiative, suggested the removal of the clause that debarred parties without representation in Parliament from taking part.

"We must all be given an equal playing field to campaign," said DPP flagbearer Mr Thomas Ward-Brew.

They also called on the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Association of Ghana Industries, which created a platform for four flag bearers to outline their energy and business visions to extend the same facilities to all elected flag bearers.

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