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Politics

It’ll be ‘immoral’ for NPP to criticize vetting process – NDC MP

Member of Parliament for Mion Constituency Dr Yakubu Ahmed Alhassan, who is also a member of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, says it is quite unjustifiable for any member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) to criticize the process of vetting of ministerial nominees of President John Dramani Mahama.

He was speaking at the backdrop of criticisms from some NPP members and some senior journalists that questioning during the first two days of vetting was skewed to favour the ministerial nominees and the seven vetted were treated with kids’ gloves.

Dr Alhassan did not mince words by saying that any lapses in the vetting process should be blamed on the NPP.

“NPP will have to take the blame for whatever lapses in the vetting of the ministers-designate,” he said on TV3’s Headlines on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

According to him, all questions that needed to be asked were exhausted by members of the Committee.

“All the critical questions in all the sectors were raised,” he noted.

Earlier on the programme, Deputy Minority Leader Dominic Nitiwul had been asked by host Henry Herbert Malm of his assessment of the vetting process.

“If you are not careful and you think you can form your own questions, you may deceive yourself,” Mr Nitiwul answered.

He explained that the Majority members of the Appointments Committee largely gave the impression that the nominees “will be there”.

“It makes it look like it’s going to be a rubber stamp,” he said of the process.

The MP for Bimbilla indicated that by citing their constituencies while asking questions, the MPs failed to exercise the core mandate of vetting the nominees but rather thinking of what the nominees will do after they assume office.

He, however, conceded that the members are in a tight corner because they are of the same party.

“There’s added pressure on the Committee because they are members of the same party,” he pointed out.

Dr Alhassan, however, disagreed with him saying that the nominees that appeared – Seth Terkper, Hannah Serwaa Tetteh, Alhaji Collins Dauda, Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani, Clement Kofi Humado, Alhaji A. B. Inusah Fuseini and Mahama Ayariga – are vested in the process since they were making re-appearances.

“So they may be better prepared,” he added.

He noted that apart from Seth Terkper, the Finance Minister-designate, those vetted were MPs, who were familiar with most members of the Committee.

He said even that did not even stop some of the members from being strict in questioning, citing that he, for example, served Clement Kofi Humado, Minister-designate for Agriculture, notice that he was going to be hard irrespective of the fact that he (Dr Alhassan) served as Chairman of the Agric Committee while Clement Humado was his deputy in the Fifth Parliament.

He admitted, however, that the Minority’s absence has taken a marginal toll on the process.

“The absence of the Minority made us lose some dimension to the Committee but not the content,” he stressed.

Mr Nitiwul in a final submission advised some of the members of the Committee to do “a little more research”.

He said they can go to directors of ministries, think-tanks, constituents and former ministers, for example, to help them get questions to vet nominees.

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Politics

NPP’s boycott decision was to establish just peace in Ghana – Jake tells GBA

Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey has stated that the decision of the party’s Members of Parliament (MPs) to boycott the vetting of ministerial nominees of President John Dramani Mahama was “based on firm principles and is fully consistent with our commitment to work to deepen and improve our evolving democracy and establish a just peace in our country.”

According to him, though the MPs will participate “vigorously” in everyday business of Parliament, they will not engage in any activity or deliberate in matters that involve the constitution of President Mahama’s government as a result of the legal challenge filed by the party’s presidential candidate, his running mate and the party’s chairman regarding the 2012 Election results.

In a missive signed by Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey to the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in response to the Association’s public call on NPP MPs to reconsider their decision to take part in the vetting of nominees, the NPP Chairman explained that the party’s parliamentary group was consulted on the legal challenge and since vetting nominee ministers, whose role will be to assist the president, will be contradictory to the challenge, the members of the party’s parliamentary group, who, according to the chairman, form an integral part of the NPP, decided not to show up on the Appointments Committee’s public sittings.

“Reconciling our position to our local culture would be that if one is challenging the elevation of a Paramount Chief one does not, at the same time, recognise such sub chiefs as he may enstool,” Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey analogized.

“I hope this explains our position,” he concluded.

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Politics

NPP disadvantaged by Supreme Court’s Jan 22 ruling – Deputy Minority Leader

Deputy Minority Leader of Parliament Dominic Nitiwul, who is also the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for the Bimbilla Constituency, says the 6-3 majority decision taken by the Supreme Court last Tuesday to allow the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to be third respondents in the petition filed by “Ghanaian citizens” Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey “clearly” disadvantages the NPP.

He said since a body or an institution cannot petition the Supreme Court regarding the election results, as stipulated in Article 64 of the 1992 Constitution, the NPP is handicapped since it cannot also file to be joined as respondents to a petition that is consistent with its stance on the results of the 2012 polls.

Speaking on TV3’s weekend news analysis programme Headlines on Saturday, January 26, 2013, Mr Nitiwul, however, intimated that the party respected the decision taken by the Court.

“Though we do not agree with the decision, we respect it,” he told host of the programme Henry Herbert Malm.

He explained that though John Dramani Mahama was cited in the petition as an individual, his defense will not be any different from what the NDC will also put up when hearing begins on January 29, 2013. Therefore, NDC’s joinder will be dilatory to the petition.

“What different thing will NDC say from John Mahama?” he quizzed.

“That is why one of the judges said ‘it is discriminatory’,” Mr Nitwul added, stating that Justice Baffoe-Bonnie was clear in his submission that the ruling did not make it possible for the NPP as a body to join.

According to the Bimbilla MP, since his party has no plans of filing a joinder, the only means it can throw support for the petitioners, who are members of his party, is to take decisions consistent with NPP’s stance on the case.

“As a party we must show that we in are full support of the case,” he indicated.

“Therefore, the party’s members in Parliament decided not to participate in any Act that has to do with the formation of President Mahama’s government,” he added.

Quoting Article 53 of the Constitution, Mr Nitiwul explained that the ministers-designate will be delegated to by the president, whose election they are challenging, and, what is more, they will form an integral part of his government. Hence, the decision by the Minority caucus not to take part in the vetting of the nominees.

He concluded that even some members of the NDC like Samson Arhin support NPP’s decision to boycott the vetting of the ministerial nominees.

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Politics

Rescind your decision – Majority tells Minority

The Majority members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament have asked the Minority caucus to rescind its decision to boycott the vetting of ministerial nominees of President John Dramani Mahama.

True to an earlier announcement, the Minority members were absent on the first day of vetting on Thursday, January 24, 2013.

According to some of the Majority members, who were present, the Minority’s decision is “undemocratic”.

“Unfortunately, we can see that members of the Minority caucus who belong to this committee are absent,” said Ebo Barton Oduro, Chairman of the Committee and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, in his opening address on the first public sitting of the Committee.

“Indeed there has been no official communication except to say that just before I entered this conference room, I received a call from the Minority Leader, who happens to be the ranking member of this Committee to the effect that they cannot be part of it,” he explained.

He was emphatic by stating that he did not consider that move by Osei Kyei Mensa Bonsu official from the Minority.

The question of quorum came to the fore though Alhaji Ibrahim Gombila, Deputy Clerk to Parliament, assured that quorum had been met since 14 out of the 25 members showed up.

Notwithstanding, members of the Committee present asked the Minority to rescind its decision since it was not “too late’ to do so.

“We pray and hope that they are going to rescind their decision as many more Ghanaians are appealing to them because this is in the very best interest of the nation,” said Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak Mohammed, MP for Asawase Constituency and a member of the Committee.

“I keep asking questions that when these people bring budgets, are they going to boycott them?” he asked. “Does it mean that when these [ministers] do appropriation like the MP’s Common Fund, they will not use it?”

Julian Azumah Mensah, MP for Agotime-Ziope Constituency, was impressed after the first day of sitting but said Minority MPs would have raised more probing questions.

“I believe it’s the same way we normally ask questions but it would have been nice and democratically right to have our colleagues with us so that they can raise other issues that we, clouded by being on the same side, may not have raised,” she pointed out.

“It’s not too late.”

But MP for North Tongu Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa described the Minority’s decision as “undemocratic” and that it “defies logic”.

“We will appeal that they can come back and carry out the responsibility that we have all been voted to carry out.”

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Politics

State spending fuels Correa’s re-election bid in Ecuador

Once a forgotten cluster of mud houses amid windswept peaks, the Ecuadorean village of Zumbahua today boasts a state-of-the-art schoolhouse with large projection touch screens, Internet access in every classroom and lessons in three languages.

Indigenous Kichwa Indians who once stuffed savings under their mattresses now have a bank in town and a free Internet cafe – all paid for by the state.

The treacherous muddy road to the village is being widened and paved, and residents are particularly proud of their local school.

“Education has improved dramatically … The students know how to work with computers better than kids from the city,” headmaster Vicente Caiza said.

Zumbahua is one example of how Ecuadoreans from the Andes mountains to the Amazon jungle have benefited from heavy government spending that will almost certainly win socialist President Rafael Correa a new term in next month’s presidential election.

Buoyed by strong oil revenue, record tax collection and steady economic growth, Correa has won broad popular support by expanding access to healthcare, doubling state spending on education and turning rough dirt paths into proper paved roads.

Polls show the U.S.-trained economist turned leftist stalwart is the clear favorite to win the February 17 election. Polls show he has the support of about 50 percent of voters, in spite of opposition criticism that he is an autocrat who has amassed power and persecuted rivals.

A Correa victory would be a boost to the alliance of left-wing Latin American presidents at a time when Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the bloc’s figurehead, is battling to recover from cancer surgery in Cuba.

It could also mean an extension of his fight with foreign investors.

In 2008, Ecuador defaulted on $3.2 billion in bonds despite having funds to make payments. It has also squeezed revenue out of oil companies by forcing them to sign new contracts, and bullied Spain’s Telefonica and Mexico’s America Movil into paying more for telecoms licenses.

But Correa’s anti-capitalist rhetoric belies a pragmatic streak that has allowed him to negotiate with foreign investors when necessary.

His government has offered concessions to Canadian gold miner Kinross as part of negotiations to kick-start Ecuador’s nascent mining industry, and it recently called a bidding round for oil blocks to help boost stagnant production.

Though companies are startled by Correa’s heavy-handed approach to negotiations, the 49-year-old will need to be more measured in his next term to ensure that Ecuador – locked out of international credit markets – receives the financing it needs.

“We have to make use of our natural resources … oil and mines to fight poverty, especially among the indigenous people,” Correa said at a campaign rally in Zumbahua, as hundreds of supporters wearing wool ponchos and fedora hats shouted “We already have a president, we have Rafael!”

Many people in rural areas support Correa, but want more.

“He has to continue, because we want the hospital that he promised us, and a fire station, and a football pitch,” said Luzmilla Cuchiparte, a 24-year-old mother of one who works at Zumbahua’s Internet cafe.

DIVISIVE LEADER

Correa lived in Zumbahua for a year in the 1980s when he volunteered with a Roman Catholic organization. He worked at the local barley mill and provided occasional religious instruction.

Most residents then lived hand-to-mouth, but the town is more affluent now and the school shows how much the area has changed. The some 1,000 students from Zumbahua and surrounding villages receive free books and uniforms, and teachers have been trained to use the Internet and computers to teach in Spanish, English and the local Kichwa language.

“We can’t turn a blind eye to reality … They need to learn to use the technology because if they don’t they will never be able to travel,” said teacher Jakeline Chicaiza.

Correa’s government says it has revamped about 5,000 schools and built 18 hospitals and 250 health centers across the nation.

“You will find people throughout Ecuador saying that Correa built that road, or that a school was not there before, or that they now receive cash handouts … Who can compete against that?” said Paulina Recalde, head of local pollster Perfiles de Opinion.

Such support has helped Correa stay in power for six years, making him the longest-running Ecuadorean president for at least four decades. He backed a constitution re-write in 2008 that allows presidents to serve two consecutive terms. That means that after this poll he cannot run again in 2017.

Rival politicians accuse Correa of undermining judicial independence and of circumventing a hostile legislature by calling a referendum on policy changes in 2011 rather than negotiating with opposition lawmakers.

The father of three is also in a self-avowed “battle” with Ecuadorean media groups, alleging that they are in the pockets of a capitalist elite.

“He’s become authoritarian, domineering, arrogant. Even if we were to assume he’s done everything well, to protect the (democratic) process he needs to be replaced,” opposition candidate and former Correa ally Alberto Acosta told Reuters.

While Correa has broad support, many in this OPEC-member country of 15 million complain that he has raised taxes and failed to fight crime, while corruption cases involving relatives are denting some support.

Companies linked to the president’s brother Fabricio Correa were awarded public contracts in violation of anti-nepotism rules, prompting the president himself to annul the deals. A cousin resigned as head of the central bank last month after admitting he had lied about having a university degree in economics.

The opposition, though, is unlikely to cash in on any discontent with Correa because it has failed to unite behind one candidate. Seven opposition candidates are fighting Correa and polls show that his closest rival, former banker Guillermo Lasso, is 31 points behind with 22 percent support.

SOCIALISM VS PRAGMATISM

In recent years, foreign investment has been low compared to neighboring Colombia and Peru, which have market-friendly governments and huge oil and mining deposits.

Colombia brought in some $13 billion in foreign investment in 2011, and Peru about $7.7 billion, against only about $650 million for Ecuador.

Ecuador failed to save money when oil prices were high, and has been relying on bilateral deals from China for funding. The London-based research company Capital Economics said in a recent report that funding from China could dry up, leaving Ecuador vulnerable.

“Ecuador will need to either boost oil revenues or increase borrowing in order to sustain the current state-led model of development,” it said. “A chronic lack of investment has caused (oil) production to stagnate in recent years.”

A return to global capital markets would prove very expensive, as Ecuador is considered default-prone.

The country is therefore actively trying to lure more investors. Correa launched an oil-block auction in late 2012 to open up unexplored Amazon areas and also aims to attract miners for untapped metal deposits.

Correa signed Ecuador’s first large-scale mining contract with Chinese-owned Ecuacorriente last year, and is in talks with Canadian-based mining firm Kinross over a large gold deposit.

Negotiations with Kinross have been plagued by delays, in part because Ecuador was wants to reap high benefits from the project, but the two sides have said they are closer to a deal after the government agreed to reform the mining law.

Despite his frequent anti-capitalist outbursts, Correa may have no choice but to soften his stance toward investors.

“Correa received a doctorate in the United States, he obtained a masters in economy in Belgium and he studied at a private university. He lives in a dichotomy. He’s a revolutionary, but also a pragmatist,” said Michel Levi, a foreign affairs professor at Quito’s Andina University.

“His pragmatism usually rules.”

Source: Reuters

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Politics

FGJ proposes new ministerial vetting procedure

The Forum for Governance and Justice (FGJ) has congratulated leadership of the 5th parliament of the 4th Republic of Ghana and commended Members of Parliament, especially the members of the appointments committee for not reneging on their responsibilities to vet ministerial nominees proposed by President John Dramani Mahama.

The group has, however, petitioned the leadership of parliament to consider revising the vetting procedure “as part of our role in influencing the growth of our democratic culture, social transformation and the delivery of justice.”

In a statement signed by Kofi Annor, Member and Policy Analyst of FGJ, the group proposed a new procedure in vetting ministerial nominees.

“The new policy we are prosing will primarily focus on reforming the entire parliamentary vetting procedure, making it more forward looking and pro-development while deepening democracy. The new vetting policy will require every new Ministerial nominee to submit a twenty (20) page Nominee Visionary Paper (NVP) document, which should contain the nominee’s vision and understanding on the specified Ministry and how he or she intend to achieve it.

“Nominated Ministers, we propose, must be able to portray clarity in their understanding of their newly designated Ministry. The document, which must be submitted by all nominees, must indicate their knowledge in the Ministry in which they will be serving and must also outline at least most of the challenges the Ministry faces.

“Under this new Ministerial Vetting Policy we propose, ninety per cent (90%) of the vetting should be focused on the content of the Nominee Visionary Paper (NVP) and the remaining ten per cent (10%) be concentrated on nominees’ education, work experience, personal life and all other relevant issues. Members of the vetting committee should be furnished with copies of the nominee’s NVP document which they must study thoroughly in order to be able to quiz the nominee on his or her owns vision for the specified sector.

“The NVP document, which must be developed and submitted by every candidate/nominee, should also exhibit a clear and intelligible understanding within the specified designated sector. A nominee must also be able to display to the vetting committee a convincing state of some political astuteness, which can help shape vision and increase institutional and socio-political understanding. The vetting committee may not only focus only on the academic credentials of a nominee or a chain of degrees which has proven to be not relevant in world democracy but a pragmatic persons who believes in the capabilities of a Ghanaian mind and the appropriate understanding in citizens’ experience and expectation”

FGJ claims the proposed procedure will help achieve the objective of selecting the utmost quality ministers with the right attitude and brain power to run the affairs of the country for the common good of all.

 

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Politics

GBA calls NPP MPs to reconsider their stand

The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has called on the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament to reconsider its decision to boycott the vetting of nominees of the president.

This was contained in a statement signed by Nene Amegatcher, President and Justin Agbeli Amenuvor, Secretary, and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday.

It said the GBA would like to draw the attention of the NPP leadership in Parliament to the 1992 Constitution, which has made provision for the challenge of the election of a President in Article 64.

The statement said some individuals in the NPP have already taken advantage of that constitutional provision.

It said the Constitution further states in Article 64(2) that a declaration by the Supreme Court that the election of a President is not valid shall be without prejudice to anything done by the person elected as President before that declaration by the Supreme Court.

“Therefore, since the Constitution recognizes the legitimacy of Mr John Dramani Mahama as President pending any decision of the Supreme Court to the Contrary and also recognizes the right of challenge the election of the President, the GBA in consideration of our collective commitment to constitutional rule hereby calls on the NPP leadership in Parliament to review its decision and to participate in the vetting of the President’s ministerial nominees,” the statement added.


Source: GNA

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Politics

NPP sends seasonal greetings to Ghanaians

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has sent its Christmas well-wishes to Ghanaians.

It admitted that though 2014 has been a difficult year, the ambience of Christmas should provide a period of rest in anticipating a brighter future.

The statement was signed and issued by National Chairman Paul Afoko on Christmas eve, December 24.

Below is the statement

We are at the end of yet another year and we from the NPP wish to extend seasonal greetings to all Ghanaians.

This year has been a difficult one for many Ghanaians; yet, the ambience of the season should not only provide a period of respite but also should stimulate expectations for a brighter future.

It is important that irrespective of our political persuasions, we all rededicate ourselves to building a very prosperous and peaceful Ghana; that we commit ourselves to fighting our political battles with genial and conciliatory dispositions.

The season should provide a period of togetherness for families; it should also be a period of sharing and expression of love; a period for forgiveness and building bridges of unity; and a period for reflections. Let us all enjoy the occasion but let’s do so responsibly, bearing in mind that we are not only celebrating a festive season but also marking the transition into a new year.

On behalf of the NPP, I wish all Ghanaians a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

…signed…

Paul Afoko

National Chairman

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Politics

Akufo-Addo opposes EC’s request

The presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December 2012 general election, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has opposed the  request by the Electoral Commission (EC) for further documents in the petition contesting the results of the presidential poll.

He said the EC “ought not be permitted to employ an application for further and better particulars to compel the petitioners to disclose the nature of evidence petitioners intend to lead during the trial”.

The EC filed a motion on January 15, 2013 praying the Supreme Court to direct the petitioners to furnish it with “further and better” particulars of polling stations the alleged irregularities took place.

But Nana Akufo-Addo, who is one of the petitioners challenging the declaration of President Mahama as the winner of the polls, in an affidavit in opposition dated January 21, 2013, prayed the court to dismiss the EC’s request.

Hearing of the EC’s motion for further particulars has been set for January 29, 2013.

The petition to the Supreme Court, dated December 28, 2012, filed by Nana Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, stated, among other things, that irregularities recorded at 4,709 polling stations favoured President Mahama.

According to the affidavit in opposition, the EC already had in its possession originals of the declaration forms and for that reason it was needless for it to request for further particulars from the petitioners.

According to the petitioners, 24,000 of the pink results sheets from some polling stations indicated that those irregularities were enough to affect the outcome of the presidential election, but the EC has denied the claims, describing the election results as credible and accurate.

Joined to the petition is the winner of the presidential polls, President Mahama, who has also denied the petitioners’ claims and insisted he won the election freely, fairly and in the full glare of the media, domestic and international observers.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 majority decision, Tuesday allowed the NDC to join the petition as a third respondent.

The court was of the view that “it will be in the interest of justice” to allow the NDC to join the petition, since the outcome of the case will have a direct bearing on the party.

According to the court, the fortunes of the NDC and those of the President were “tied together” and it was, therefore, important for the NDC to be allowed to join the petition to assist the court to get to the bottom of the matter.

Source: Daily Graphic

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Politics

Alan ‘K’ urges NPP supporters to snub “Alan for 2016” posters

Former Minister of Trade and Industry and two-time presidential candidate aspirant of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), John Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten, has stated that neither him nor any agent of his has been authorized to put out campaign for him regarding Election 2016.

He has, therefore, called on the leadership of the NPP, party members and supporters as well as the general public to treat “the current so-called “Alan for 2016” poster campaign with the contempt it deserves and see it as the work of people who want to sow discord and disunity in our great party the NPP.”

A statement signed on Mr Kyeremanten’s behalf by Kwabena Agyei Agyapong pointed out that the former Ghanaian ambassador to the United States supports NPP’s court action to challenge the 2012 Election results and will, therefore, not “do anything to detract from the attention and support the petitioners need from the entire party to see the matter to its logical conclusion.”

“In view of the weight of evidence the petitioners in the court case have put before the courts, it is believed that detractors of our party who are nervous about the possible outcome of the case have resorted to acts aimed at undermining the unity and cohesion of the New Patriotic Party and should such attempts succeed, these elements then hope to take advantage of a disunited NPP,” the statement explained.

“Mr. Alan Kyerematen, therefore, calls on all genuine party members and loyalists to completely disregard this so-called “Alan for 2016” poster campaign that is being waged by enemies of the party, and stand solidly behind Nana Akufo Addo, the 2012 Presidential Candidate of the Party, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, his running mate and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, our party chairman in the pursuit of the case in which they are obviously seeking justice for the party and all Ghanaians in general.”

 

Source: 3news.com|Ghana