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NPP tells lies in ‘geometric progression’ – Asiedu Nketia

General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Johnson Asiedu Nketia has reacted angrily to the opposition New Patriotic Party’s press meeting on Friday, December 28, 2012 that the Electoral Commission (EC) massaged circa 1,340,000 votes to favour Candidate John Dramani Mahama in the just-ended elections.

He says the NPP’s problem is that they are yet to come to the reality that they lost the December 7/8 Elections and are finding it difficult explaining it to their followers.

As a result, they have resorted to lies, which they will continue to spue in “geometric progression”.

Addressing the media at NDC’s head office immediately after NPP’s press confab, Asiedu Nketia argued that NPP’s uncoverings cannot stand the test of any law court “anywhere”.

“This so-called evidence they are talking about…cannot stand the test of any proceeding anywhere,” he said.

“They know it will be thrown out,” he emphasized.

He, however, admitted that the NDC sided with the NPP with regard to the numbers on the register but disagree numbers were added to those obtained by his party’s candidate John Mahama.

“We don’t have a problem with whatever they are talking about in terms of the numbers on the register. But our problem is for them to assume that by their own recording, they have seen that there is a bloated register and that all the bloating converts into votes that have been added to the tally of President Mahama.”

‘Problem with logic and mathematics’

He said the NPP’s grievances are neither here nor there but they fall back to the basics of the Party’s logic and mathematics problems.

“Again, that is where we come back to what I have maintained all along that NPP has a problem with logic and mathematics,” he stressed.

He pointed out that there was no two registers used by the EC as claimed by NPP and “it is just a figment of their imagination.”

He analogized that NPP’s current position is like riding a tiger.

“They are scared that if they come down the tiger will consume them.”

According to the NDC scribe, President Mahama won the elections cleanly as per their painstaking crosscheck of the results.


Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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‘We are not revolutionaries’ – Nana Addo

2012 Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says, contrary to perceptions by some opponents, the NPP is not seeking “to destabilize our country,” but to deepen democracy and the rule of law.

He says among the various stages of the electoral process – the count, the collation, the declaration of results – the sanctity of the ballot “is and must be supreme.”

He said “it is the sacred, God-given right of a citizen casting his or her ballot.”

Nana Addo was addressing the media after the NPP filed a petition against President-elect John Dramani Mahama and the Electoral Commission, whose conduct is the subject of the complaint in the petition, on Friday, December 28, 2012.

He said there are three petitioners: “me, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the NPP presidential candidate in the election, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, my running mate and Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, Chairman of the New Patriotic Party.”

According to Nana Addo, the petition is a not personal one between him and President John Dramani Mahama but “there is a much more important issue at stake, which goes to the heart of our democracy and the future of our nation.”

He said he has fought his entire adult life “for the establishment of the democratic system of government and human rights in our country. And I have always fought for and advocated for a credible electoral process in Ghana.”

He noted that most of the innovations in the EC have been at the instance of the NPP.

“We can say that almost every innovation that the Electoral Commission has brought to improve the process has been at the instigation of the NPP, and often in the face of initial resistance from the Electoral Commission: transparent ballot boxes, photo-ID cards, biometric registration and verification, and to that list I might add the fact that we, the ruling party of the day, accepted in 2008 a verdict of losing a presidential election by the narrowest of margins without any fuss. All these have made Ghana a shining example.”

After revealing that even the “most skeptical” within the NPP has been taken aback at the scale of what has been uncovered, Nana Addo pointed out that the decision to petition the Supreme Court is on behalf of “the more than five million people that, according to the Electoral Commission, voted for me, to whom I am very grateful; and on behalf of all the eleven million people who stood in line patiently on December 7th, and in some cases, also on December 8th, 2012 to cast their votes and also on behalf of all 24 million citizens and on behalf of generations yet unborn.”

He thanked NPP members, supporters and volunteers “for their hardwork and patience” in the past three weeks, during which the “incontrovertible” evidence – which gives Nana Addo a 50.28% majority win – were garnered.

 Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Politics

Benazir Bhutto son Bilawal gives Pakistan political vow

The son of Pakistan’s murdered ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has promised to fight militancy to maintain democracy, in his first major political speech.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told party supporters marking five years since his mother’s death that she “sacrificed her life to uphold democracy”.

Ms Bhutto died in a gun and bomb attack during her 2007 election campaign.

Her son, whose father is President Asif Ali Zardari, has so far kept a low profile as party chairman.

In remarks carried by Pakistan state television, Mr Bhutto Zardari told the crowd of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supporters gathered near his family’s shrine in Sindh province that the people were “the source of power”.

“The beacon of democracy continues to shine,” he said, pledging that his party would fight militancy and extremism to create a peaceful, democratic Pakistan.

The 24-year-old Oxford graduate has been PPP chairman since his mother’s assassination by Taliban militants. He cannot contest an election until his 25th birthday, which falls next September, some months after a parliamentary vote is due.

It was the first time that Pakistanis had heard Mr Bhutto Zardari speak live on radio and TV.

He was confident and articulate and his speech emotionally charged, the BBC’s Shahzeb Jillani reports from the event in the city of Larkana.

President Zardari, who also addressed the crowd, promised that next year’s vote would be free and fair.

Show of strength

Security was tight as activists carrying portraits of Ms Bhutto and her father, former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, arrived at the shrine.

The governing PPP is keen to use the rally as a show of strength to demonstrate that despite widespread criticism over its performance during the past five years, it still enjoys popular support, our correspondent says.

Mr Bhutto Zardari’s father has been at the forefront of the party until now but faces dwindling support over corruption allegations.

Those fed up with President Zardari’s politics are looking to his son to help revive the party’s mass appeal, our correspondent says.

The Bhutto dynasty has been a major political force since Pakistan gained independence in 1947.

Ms Bhutto, whose father founded the PPP, was prime minister from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996.

On both occasions she was dismissed from office for alleged corruption.

No-one has been charged with her assassination.

A UN inquiry in 2010 found that her murder could have been prevented and that the subsequent investigation was bungled.


Source: BBC

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Shinzo Abe returns as Japan’s prime minister

Old-guard veteran Shinzo Abe was voted back into office as prime minister Wednesday and immediately named a new Cabinet, ending three years of liberal administrations and restoring power to his conservative, pro-big-business party that has run Japan for most of the post-World War II era.

Abe, whose nationalist positions have in the past angered Japan’s neighbors, is the country’s seventh prime minister in just over six years. He was also prime minister in 2006-2007 before resigning for health reasons that he says are no longer an issue.

The outspoken and often hawkish leader has promised to restore growth to an economy that has been struggling for 20 years. His new administration also faces souring relations with China and a complex debate over whether resource-poor Japan should wean itself off nuclear energy after last year’s earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at an atomic power plant.

On top of that, he will have to win over a public that gave his party a lukewarm mandate in elections on Dec. 16, along with keeping at bay a still-powerful opposition in parliament. Though his party and its Buddhist-backed coalition partner is the biggest bloc in the more influential lower house, Abe actually came up short in the first round of voting in the upper house, then won in a runoff.

Capitalizing on voter discontent with the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan, Abe has vowed to shore up the economy, deal with a swelling national debt and come up with a fresh recovery plan following last year’s tsunami disaster, which set off the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

“Disaster reconstruction and economic recovery are our first and foremost tasks,” new Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in announcing what he called a “crisis breakthrough Cabinet.”

In foreign policy, Abe has stressed his desire to make Japan a bigger player on the world stage, a stance that has resonated with many voters who are concerned that their nation is taking a back seat economically and diplomatically to China.

He has said he will support a reinterpretation of Japan’s pacifist postwar constitution to loosen the reins on the military, stand up to Beijing over an ongoing territorial dispute and strengthen Tokyo’s security alliance with Washington. Beijing has already warned him to tread carefully, and will be watching closely to see if he tones down his positions now that he is in office.

Abe led the Liberal Democratic Party to victory in nationwide elections this month to cement his second term as Japan’s leader.

“I feel as fresh as the clear sky today,” Abe told reporters before Wednesday’s parliamentary vote, adding that he wanted to get right down to business.

His new Cabinet will feature another former prime minister, Taro Aso, as finance minister. Heading the foreign ministry is Fumio Kishida, an expert on the southern island of Okinawa, where many residents angry over crime and overcrowding want a big reduction in the number of U.S. troops they host — now at about 20,000. The new defense minister is Itsunori Onodera, who was in Abe’s previous administration.

Abe has already named a roster of top party executives that includes two women — more than in previous LDP administrations — and is younger than earlier ones, with three of the four in their 50s.

The LDP governed Japan for decades after it was founded in 1955. Before it was ousted in 2009, the LDP was hobbled by scandals and problems getting key legislation through a divided parliament.

This time around, Abe has promised to make the economy his top priority and is expected to push for a 2 percent inflation target designed to fight a problem that was until recently relatively unique in the world — deflation. Continually dropping prices deaden economic activity, and the Japanese economy has been stuck in deflation for two decades.

Besides generous promises to boost public works spending — by as much as 10 trillion yen ($119 billion), according to party officials — Abe is pressuring the central bank to work more closely with the government to reach the inflation target.

Source: AP

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NPP defends CPP’s Greenstreet

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has jumped to the defence of the solidarity message delivered by the General Secretary of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Ivor Greenstreet, at the 8th national delegates’ congress of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The NPP expressed disappointment in the varying reactions to Mr Greenstreet’s message by NDC members including President John Dramani Mahama’s.

“Even though the President said he was exercising restraint on the matter, he diagnosed Mr. Greestreet as suffering from ‘incurable selective myopia’; that Mr. Greenstreet was motivated by partisan quest to win power, that he was wearing politically tainted lenses that made him difficult to see reality.

“So we ask, is criticism today equated to not seeing reality?”

NPP made its position on the matter known in a statement issued on Monday, December 22.

Mr Greenstreet used the occasion to point out that “[Ghanaians] are not feeling [the] ‘Better Ghana Agenda’.”

He added that the Christmas “is too dry”.

President John Dramani Mahama, who doubles as NDC’s leader, described the message as symbolic of the CPP’s anger for power.

But the NPP questioned President Mahama’s reaction given “that President Mahama had made in opposition to national welfare issues such as the NHIS, LEAP,NYEP, and the proposal for the Savanah Development Fund…”

‘A state of disaster management’

But the highlight of the congress was the election of National Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) Kofi Portuphy as new chairman of the ruling party over incumbent Dr Kwabena Adjei.

His deputy at NADMO, Jemima Anita De Sosoo, who was hitherto the party’s Women’s Organiser, was also elected as one of the six vice chairs.

“It is clear to us that the NDC is in a state of Disaster Management, as the leadership of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) has assumed the management of the party at this stage,” Nana Akomea, NPP’s Communications Director, said in the statement.

He outlined that the NPP will focus on the performance of the NDC government, “clear alternative” and sane ballot going into the 2016 elections.

“Regarding the performance of the government, the general opinion is that, it has been generally poor.”

The former lawmaker, however, congratulated the NDC for expanding its electoral college, insinuating that it is an emulation of the NPP’s.

“We are happy that when parties get better, they look like us.”

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana

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Italy Prime Minister Monti expected to resign on Friday

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti will hand in his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano after parliament approves the 2013 budget later on Friday, political and government sources said.

Monti, who this month lost the support of the center-right People of Freedom (PDL) party which had backed his technocrat government in parliament, had already announced he would stand down as soon as the budget was passed.

He is due to hold a news conference on Sunday at which he is expected to say whether he intends to stand as a candidate in the election, likely to be held on February 24.

Source: Reuters

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India’s Modi wins state poll, may boost prime ministerial ambitions

Narendra Modi won a fourth successive term as the chief minister of India’s Gujarat state on Thursday, a victory that could launch the prime ministerial ambitions of one of the country’s most popular but controversial leaders.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 115 of the state legislative assembly’s 182 seats against 61 for the Congress party, which heads India’s national government.

The result is likely to have repercussions far beyond the borders of the prosperous western state of 60 million people.

The BJP won 117 seats in 2007 and analysts say Modi needed another convincing victory to present himself as the party’s presumptive candidate for prime minister in national elections due by 2014.

Modi’s win could fire up the ailing main opposition BJP, giving it a leader who inspires euphoric support for the high growth, uninterrupted power supply and safe streets he is credited with providing in Gujarat.

But the 62-year-old Modi, portrayed by his critics as a closet Hindu zealot, could prove too divisive a figure to become a nationally acceptable leader who would also need to win over enough allies to form a coalition government.

That could play into the hands of the Congress party as it prepares to launch Rahul Gandhi, heir to India’s most powerful political dynasty, as the man to take over the reins from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Markets will now ponder upon whether the PM candidate from the BJP will be Narendra Modi, and whether we are looking at a showdown between Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi in 2014,” said Deven Choksey, managing director of K R Choksey Securities.

To his detractors, Modi’s reign is overshadowed by Hindu-Muslim riots that tore through his state 10 years ago, killing 1,000-2,000 people. Critics accuse him of not doing enough to stop the violence, or even quietly encouraging it, allegations he has strenuously denied and have never been proven.

But that has not stopped him winning successive elections, touting his credentials as an effective economic manager in contrast to the policy drift in New Delhi that has helped drag India’s economic growth to its worst pace in a decade.

Modi’s supporters shouted “PM, PM” at his victory speech. He addressed the crowd in Hindi rather than Gujarati, which was seen by commentators as an attempt to address a national audience in preparation for a possible run for higher office.

“I apologies for the mistakes I’ve made,” Modi told the crowd. “You have given me power. Give me your blessings so that I make no mistakes in the future.”

Modi first came to power in Gujarat in 2001, and subsequently won elections in 2002 and again in 2007.

PLAYED DOWN

He has always publicly played down a possible bid to become prime minister, saying Gujarat was his priority.

His supporters’ admiration is shared by Indian and foreign business leaders who extol Gujarat’s ability to cut through red tape and find cheap land for factories, drawing investment from firms including Ford Motor Co and Tata Motors.

The question will now turn to whether Modi will secure the backing of the BJP, which has been plagued by internal squabbling and has lacked a leader to galvanize the party’s Hindu, middle class “vote bank”.

“Modi means development,” said Shrikant Sharma, a BJP spokesman. “A lot of Indians expect him to be made the prime ministerial candidate, but that’s a call the party will take.”

Modi’s appeal outside Gujarat is largely untested. Gujarat has been a BJP stronghold since the 1990s and benefited from a weak state-level opposition. But his campaigns on behalf of the party outside his home state have had mixed results.

“Modi has had a history of championing Gujarat, but this reputation for provincialism is obviously a liability if you’re aiming to lead a huge, diverse country of 28 states,” said Anjalika Bardalai, an analyst at the Eurasia Group.

“His reputation as a Hindu hardliner … is of course a major potential liability in a country with a non-Hindu population of about 20 percent.”

Critics, even within his own party, see Modi as arrogant and divisive. He is also likely to struggle to revive the BJP’s fortunes in northern states with large Muslim populations, and could struggle to win regional allies – who rely on religious minorities – to form a national coalition.

That could help the Congress party, although it has seen its popularity slide while in power due to voter anger over slowing growth, high inflation and a string of corruption scandals.

It might be tempted to call an early election next year if the BJP looks weak enough, but analysts said this was unlikely.

“They still have to prepare themselves in other parts of India, which they haven’t done yet,” said Badri Narayan, professor of politics at G.B. Pant Social Institute in Allahabad. “They need the next one year to boost their policies and pass reforms. It’ll take time.”

Meanwhile, the Congress party won a consolation prize on Thursday, taking back the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh from the BJP in the second of two provincial elections.

Source: Reuters

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South Koreans vote in tightly-fought presidential poll

Millions of South Koreans are casting ballots in a presidential election seen as too close to call.

Park Geun-hye of the governing Saenuri party is looking to make history as South Korea’s first female president.

But she faces a tough challenge from Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party, who has been steadily eroding her lead in the polls.

Whoever wins will replace President Lee Myung-bak, who is stepping down, as the law requires, after his five-year term.

Economic issues including welfare provision and job creation have dominated campaigning.

‘New era’

Polls opened at 06:00 (21:00GMT) and close 12 hours later. Three television stations will release joint exit polls when voting closes, with formal results expected early on Thursday.

Seven hours in, polling was brisk with turnout at 45.3% – up from 36.7% at the same point in the previous election in 2007, Yonhap news agency said.

A national holiday has been declared so people can cast their ballots.

“Though it’s cold today, I hope you will take part in the voting and open up a new era that every one of you has yearned for,” Ms Park said after voting in Seoul.

Park Geun-hye is the daughter of former military ruler General Park Chung-hee, a polarising figure credited with transforming South Korea into an economic success story during his 1961-1979 rule, but accused of ruthlessly crushing dissent.

Both Ms Park’s parents were assassinated – her mother in 1974 by a pro-North Korea gunman and her father in 1979 by his own spy chief.

Ms Park, 60, who in September apologised for human rights abuses during her father’s era, said on Tuesday she would be “a president of the people’s livelihoods, who thinks only about the people”.

“I will restore the broken middle class and open an era in which the middle class make up 70% of the population,” she said in a news conference at her party’s headquarters in Seoul.

Mr Moon, a former human rights lawyer, was once jailed for protesting against General Park’s regime.

He was a chief of staff to Mr Lee’s predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun, who killed himself in 2009 while under investigation for corruption.

In his news conference, Mr Moon pointed to the current corruption and incompetency allegations surrounding Ms Park’s own party.

“This overall crisis… will not be resolved by replacing the representative player. We must change the entire team,” the 59-year-old said.

Casting his ballot on Wednesday, he appealed for voters to turn out. “If you have been unsatisfied over the last five years, please change the world with your votes,” he said.

For all their differences, the two candidates have put forward remarkably similar policies, the BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Seoul says.

They have both promised to boost social welfare spending, close the gap between the rich and poor and rein in the country’s family-run giant conglomerates, known as chaebol.

On the issue of North Korea, which has not featured heavily in the campaign despite its recent rocket launch, both candidates have promised more engagement with Pyongyang – though, in Ms Park’s case, more cautiously than her rival.

Our correspondent says the electorate appears to be more engaged than usual, with one recent poll suggested more than 80% of voters are planning to cast their ballots

South Korea uses a first-past-the-post system, and so the candidate with the most votes will become president.


Source: BBC

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South Korea election: Park Geun-hye defeats Moon Jae-in

South Korea’s President-elect, Park Geun-hye, has said her victory will help the country’s economy recover.

Ms Park, the daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee, defeated her liberal rival Moon Jae-in. She will be South Korea’s first female leader.

Votes are still being counted, but Mr Moon has admitted defeat. Turnout was high in a poll dominated by economic and social welfare issues.

Ms Park, 60, will replace her party colleague Lee Myung-bak.

He is stepping down as the law requires after his five-year term.

Combined figures from the networks released after polls closed gave Ms Park 50.1% of the vote over Mr Moon’s 48.9%.

“This is a victory brought by the people’s hope for overcoming crisis and economic recovery,” she told supporters in the capital Seoul.

Economic growth has fallen to about 2% after several decades in which it averaged 5.5%.

With the country having split almost equally along party lines, the BBC’s Seoul correspondent Lucy Williamson says Ms Park will have to work hard to improve relations with her detractors.

Father’s legacy

From the moment polls opened at 06:00 on Wednesday (21:00 GMT on Tuesday), millions of South Koreans queued to cast their ballots despite freezing temperatures.

Ms Park’s supporters, wearing red party scarves, cheered as poll figures emerged.

Both bolstered and dogged by the legacy of her father, who built South Korea’s economy while crushing dissent, she apologised in September for human rights abuses under his administration.

Mr Moon of the Democratic United Party is a former human rights lawyer who served under former President Roh Moo-hyun. He was briefly jailed by Ms Park’s father in the 1970s.

Both candidates put forward broadly similar policies, promising to boost social welfare spending, close the gap between the rich and poor and rein in the family-run giant conglomerates known as chaebol.

The issue of North Korea did not feature heavily in the campaign despite its recent rocket launch.

Both candidates promised more engagement with Pyongyang – though in Ms Park’s case, more cautiously than her rival.

Ties between the two Koreas deteriorated during Mr Lee’s term.

Source: BBC

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France opposition UMP agrees new leadership vote

The two leadership rivals in France’s opposition centre-right UMP party have agreed to hold a re-run of their controversial leadership election.

The fresh poll, again pitting Jean-Francois Cope and former Prime Minister Francois Fillon against each other, will be held before October next year.

Both claimed victory in November’s poll to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as leader of the UMP.

The dispute had threatened to break the party apart.

Mr Cope was declared the narrow winner of the first vote, but the result was challenged by Mr Fillon, who went on to form a breakaway splinter group of UMP members.

‘Unambiguous deal’

The party is expected to reunite before the poll, which is scheduled to take place before parliament reconvenes after the summer recess in October.

An independent body will organise the election.

Mr Fillon’s spokesman, Jerome Chartier, said this was a “clear, unambiguous deal” that would determine the UMP’s “indisputable” leader.

The announcement of a deal came after a series of private meetings between the political rivals.

Previously Mr Cope had offered a fresh election, but not until after local elections in March 2014. This was rejected by Mr Fillon who set his own March 2013 deadline for any new vote.

The agreement to hold elections at the end of the summer recess appears to be a compromise.

“The problem of the calendar for a new election was the last sticking point between us,” said Mr Cope, speaking to AFP on Sunday.

The fall-out from the contested election has been seen as hugely damaging to the UMP, which is Socialist President Francois Hollande’s main political opposition.

Source: BBC