Governments must be stopped from spending in election year – Nitiwul

Deputy Minority Leader in Parliament Dominic Bingab Nitiwul says he will advocate for passage of a law that will stop governments from spending in election years.

He said the National Democratic Congress’ expenditure in the last quarter of 2012 has influenced his position.

“I will start advocating for a law that stops governments from spending in the last year, especially in the last quarter of the year,” he said on TV3’s News @ 10 on Wednesday.

According to Member of Parliament for the Bimbilla Constituency, the Mahama-led NDC government spent as much as GH¢700 million on campaigning last year.

“The Youth and Sports Ministry alone spent over GH¢300m last year,” he stated.

“GH¢8.7 billion is the total government spent in the last quarter,” he added.

He alleged that the usage of the money on government projects like the Local Enterprises and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) and Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Dvelopment Agecny (GYEEDA) was ostensible.

“It went into campaigning,” he stressed.

“We are choked with debt now,” he noted.

“Government has overspent,” he added.

He also pointed out that there are no “visible” projects commensurate with the excessive borrowing of the NDC.

“If you look at the quantum of money borrowed by NDC, they are the government that’s borrowed more than any other government since independence.”



Minority may find themselves out of Parliament – Bagbin

Minority Leader of the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has hinted that the actions of the Minority Members of Parliament may land them outside the House.

The Member of Parliament for Nadowli Kaleo has, therefore, given his backing to three Ghanaian citizens, who have filed a writ at the Supreme Court to get it to declare the 123 seats of the New Patriotic Party’s members vacant.

The three are also seeking interpretation of some articles in the 1992 Constitution.

Speaking on TV3 News on Wednesday, the immediate past Minister of Health condemned semblances the Minority draws from his press conference in 2002 after then president, John Agyekum Kufuor delivered the state-of-the-nation address.

According to him, it was a mere analysis of the two years of NPP’s government and not an alternative address on the state of the nation.

He mentioned that the actions of the current Minority is unconstitutional.

“The refusal of the Minority to recognize the legality and validity of the election of His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama is unconstitutional,” he stated.

“When the actions of Parliament are within the powers and the procedures of the House, it is a closed book. But when those conducts and actions and activities are infringing on the law, the courts have the right to probe into it and declare.”



Declare 123 NPP seats vacant – 3 pray to court

Three persons have dragged the New Patriotic Party’s Members of Parliament (MPs) to the Supreme Court for their actions which “we think is a clear breach of the Constitution”.

Sam George, Sumaila Bielbiel and George Spencer Quaye’s writ is to seek interpretation on some articles of the 1992 Constitution – including Articles 48, 63, 78, 100, 103, 125 and 127.

Speaking on TV3’s late night news analysis programme News @ 10 on Wednesday, Spencer Quaye, who is also a member of the National Democratic Congress’ communications team, said the Minority’s actions seem to suggest that there is no president in the country.

“The Minority MP’s do not legitimize the president of the country,” he said.

He said their actions seem to be supporting the petitioners, who are recognized as individuals in the suit challenging the 2012 Election results at the Supreme Court.

“They seem to be lending credence to the three petitioners,” he mentioned to host Bright Nana Amfoh.

The NDC Communications team member noted that their writ is to pray to the Supreme Court to declare the Minority MPs’ 123 seats vacant since “they have demonstrated that they are not willing to work”.

“We are asking the Supreme Court to declare the 123 seats vacant,” he stressed.

He stated that he found it difficult to understand how the Minority Leader, Osei-Kyei mensah-Bonsu, could tell Ghanaians that the Minority MPs will return to Parliament when they so wish.

According Spencer Quaye, they have a mandate to serve their constituents, some of whom are NDC members.

“It means almost GH¢1million a month is going waste,” he said of the total salary the 123 Minority MPs receive monthly.



Tunisian president testifies in probe of politician’s murder

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki testified on Thursday before a judge probing the murder of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, as police narrowed their hunt for his killer to an area near the border with Algeria.

The shooting of secular politician Belaid by a suspected Islamist radical on February 6 provoked the biggest street protests in Tunisia since the overthrow of strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

Secular parties later withdrew their support for Islamist-backed Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, forcing the collapse of his coalition government.

Marzouki, who leads one of Tunisia’s main secular parties, was called to testify because he had warned Belaid in January of a death threat against him and offered him police protection, local media reported.

Secularists had long complained that Jebali’s government was too tolerant of religious radicals emboldened by the fall of Ben Ali, whose government spent decades suppressing Islamists.

A swift arrest and trial of Belaid’s killer could calm the political turmoil that has stalled efforts to rebuild an economy hit hard by the 2011 uprising.

“The investigating judge at the Court of Tunis heard on Thursday morning President Moncef Marzouki as a witness in the case of Chokri Belaid’s assassination,” the presidency said in a statement.

The interview took place at the Carthage Palace, the head of state’s official residence.

It was the first time a Tunisian president had taken the witness stand in a judicial investigation.

Police believe Belaid’s killer is a 34-year-old member of a radical Islamist Salafi group.

Interior Minister Ali Larayedh said on Tuesday that police had arrested four other ultra-orthodox Salafis suspected of being accomplices.

“Chokri received many death threats by telephone in his final weeks,” said Belaid’s brother Abd Majid.

Zied Lakdhar, a member of Belaid’s Popular Front party, also said Belaid had refused police protection.

Army and police forces backed by military aircraft were searching the regions of Wad Mliz and Ghar Dimaou near the border with Algeria on Thursday in an effort to catch Belaid’s killer, security sources said.

Source: Reuters


One uniform, one boot for Armed Forces personnel – Minority alleges

The Minority in Parliament alleges that for the past four years, personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces have been issued with one uniform whether at home or on peace keeping operations.

In what it describes as the “True Message of the State of the Nation” delivered on Wednesday, the Minority also alleged that “the ranks from Sergeant upwards have not been given any replacement boots.”

The personnel accommodation problem is deplorable and deteriorating, the messge delivered by Suame Member of Parliament Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu indicated.

“The National Democratic Congress-led government has not been able to add to the residential accommodation project initiated by the New Patriotic Party government,” the Minority Leader told journalists.

He also pointed out that the barracks are battling with poor road networks and water supply.

“The health delivery at the 37 Military Hospital and the Medical Reception Centers in the Garrisons are sinking,” he added.

He said equipment used in medical operations are “becoming obsolete and unserviceable.”

‘Gari and tujimi’

He said the much-taunted Peacekeeping Operations has been bedeviled with feeding deficiency as officers are “fed on ‘Gari’ continuously for one week and when they are being served with rice, they are served with ‘tujimi’.”

The Minority called for better service for personnel.

“The personnel on operations deserve better,” Hon. Mensah-Bonsu stated.

He added that allowances become difficult to access for officers during operations, noting that sometimes it takes between four to six months into operation period before allowances are received.

“Remittances for families at home are unnecessarily delayed to the detriment of family responsibility,” the Minority disclosed.

According to Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, officers appear to have lost interest in overseas training programmes as a result of the treatment meted out to them by government, adding that participation continues to be dwindling.

“It is clear from the foregoing that morale in the Security Services is so low to the extent that it has affected and impacted negatively on their commitment and professionalism,” he said. 

“The Mahama-led government should stop preaching their welfare programme from the roof-tops and walk their talk. Our Security Services must be well resourced and catered for to assure our human security,” he added.

The Minority delivered its state-of-the-nation address after contesting the delivery of President John Dramani Mahama.

According to Members, President Mahama did not paint the correct picture of the state of the nation.



Minority’s action comical – Dr Apaak

The recent action of the Minority in Parliament has been described as comical.
“It’s comical. They would have served their constituents well if they sat to listen to the president’s address last Thursday,” said Dr Clement Abass Apaak while discussing the Minority’s non-engagement in deliberations on President John Dramani Mahama’s state-of-the-nation address.

He was speaking on TV3’s late news analysis programme News @10.

Dr Apaak, who is the Convener for the Forum of Governance and Justice, said President Mahama “truly” laid out what the state of the nation is.

He condemned attempts by the Minority to deliver what it describes as THE TRUE state-of-the-nation address.

“It’s a very confused stance that is not sustainable,” he said.

“This tendency of selective participation is undermining their divided attention,” he stated.

Dr Apaak also condemned a new phenomenon which subjects members who express dissenting views in a group to a barrage of criticisms.

Recently, economist Kwame Mpianim and energy expert Dr Wereko Brobbey were verbally attacked by some members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for expressing dissenting opinions.

“I think it is not unusual that members of a party express dissenting views,” he told host Bright Nana Amfoh on Tuesday.

He said attacks on such persons smack of intolerance.

“That is a clear display of intolerance. People have the right to express their opinion,” he added.

Dr Apaak, however, cautioned that “people raise concerns with all sort of reasons” and that must be taken cognizance of.



NDC’s Ashiamah wins Buem by-election

National Democratic Congress’ Daniel Kwesi Ashiamah will join the Sixth Parliament as Member for the Buem Constituency.

The marketer, 43, polled 9,366 votes to beat Convention People’s Party’s Nelson Bediako Asafo to win the by-election held on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

The CPP candidate polled 726 votes representing 6.46 per cent of the valid votes cast.

Mr Ashiamah’s votes represented 84.16 per cent of the 11,060 valid votes cast.

Progressive People’s Party’s candidate, Ellis Akoto-Ade, who was thought to be the main pretender came third with 506 votes.

He was followed by National Vision Party’s Alhaji Muniru, who polled 256 votes.

People’s National Convention’s Adams Darko Boateng came last after polling 211 votes.

Voter turn-out was generally described as low.

It was also worsened by a heavy downpour two hours to closure of polls, our correspondent reported.

Komla Klutse stated on TV3’s News @ 10 that voter turn-out was 30.29 per cent. The total number of registered voters in the Constituency is 37, 127.

Rejected ballots were 187.

The by-election was instanced by the death of Henry Ford Kamel, who had represented the Constituency since 2004.



Ghanaians asked to ignore Minority’s ‘True State of the Nation’

Former Minority Leader of Parliament and Member of Parliament for Nadowli Kaleo Alban Sumaina Kingsford Bagbin has called on Ghanaians to treat the Minority’s ‘True state-of-the-nation address’ delivered on Wednesday with the contempt it deserves.

He said the Minority’s allusion to the National Democratic Congress’ alternative state of the nation’s address in 2007 is incorrect as “we were doing an analysis of their performance for the two years,” he told TV3’s Edward Kwabi in an interview in Parliament.

He mentioned that there cannot be any alternative state-of-the-nation address where there is an elected president, who is enjoined by the constitution to deliver one.

“You cannot have an alternative to the state of the nation. The message of the state of the nation comes from the President. That is constitutional,” the former Minister of Health said.

He pointed out that what the Minority did on Wednesday is only contentious.

“What they have done is contentious and people should disregard it,” he stated.

Member of Parliament for Madina Alhaji Amadu Sorogho expressed his surprise at the Minority members’ disregard for business in the House to organize their state-of-the-nation address ceremony.

“We had business to do in the House,” he said.

“Seriously, I don’t know what they spoke about because the Constitution recognizes the president under Article 67 coming to deliver the state of the nation address.

“But there is only one president elected by the people of Ghana and sworn in by the Chief Justice representing Ghana as a country.”



NPP not a family stool to be inherited – Nana Akomea tells Kwame Pianim

Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Akomea has stated that no branding of the party has given an impression that it is “a family stool to be inherited.”

In a statement released on Wednesday to react to Kwame Pianim’s comments in the African Watch Magazine, Nana Akomea pointed out that the NPP “is ready to accept results of any election no matter how bitter”.

“In 2008 for example, even though the party was the incumbent government and lost by the narrowest of margins, the party accepted the results,” it noted.

Nana Akomea stated that by resorting to court apropos results of the 2012 Elections, the party is ensuring that it is rebuilt – a call made by Mr Pianim in the Magazine.

“Mr. Pianim calls for a rebuilding of the party. It is our humble view that the court challenge is a major part of rebuilding the party. Indeed the court case seeks to restore the greatest integrity in our electoral system. Hence it goes to the heart of Ghanaian democracy itself,” the statement pointed out.

It said the perception that positions in the NPP is to be inherited informed the conduct of Mr Pianim in 1996, when he decided to contest a decision to disallow him contest the party’s flagbearership.

“Mr. Pianim sought to hold the party to ransom by attempting to subject the party’s congress to his fortunes in the court case. It is that kind of behaviour that suggests that one views positions in the party as inheritances,” the statement indicated.

It also observed that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the party’s presidential candidate for the 2012 Elections, has not held himself out as leader of the party since December 9, 2012.

“Every official meeting of the party at the national level has been chaired by the National Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey,” it stated.

The statement maintained that the rules governing election petitions require that individual citizens should be the petitioners. That is why three members of the NPP are contesting the results.

“These three individuals are therefore acting in the name of the party. It should be trite knowledge that the vast numbers of the rank and file of the party fully support this action. Indeed it will amount to gross negligence and betrayal if NPP leadership took no action in the face of the overwhelming evidence of the Illegalities and malpractices that attended the conduct of the 2012 general elections.”

Nana Akomea stated that Mr Pianim would have known how solid the party’s court case is if he had availed himself to details of evidence.

He further revealed that the decision of the NPP to boycott President Mahama’s inauguration was taken by the National Council, the second highest decision making body of NPP.

“The National Council is composed of the entire membership of the National Executive Committee, Council of Elders, Founding Members, ex-presidents, ex-vice presidents, ex-national chairmen, ex-general secretaries, flagbearers, parliamentary leadership, 20 Members of Parliament, all regional chairmen, heads of the various directorates etc.”

The statement also disclosed that “the party’s protest against the election results is not limited to the Supreme Court.

“The protest extends to other non-violent, peaceful activities such as specific parliamentary boycotts,” it added.

It asked Mr Pianim and other elders to throw their support behind the party in strengthening democracy not only within the party but in Ghana.

“We ask elders like Mr. Pianim be part of the spirit of the party at this time by supporting the tremendous effort the party is making in court not only for itself but for democracy in Ghana”



Italy election: Europe jitters over result deadlock

European politicians and markets have reacted anxiously after Italy’s general election produced a stalemate between centre-right and centre-left blocs.

France and Germany urged continued reform, while Spain described the result as a “jump to nowhere”.

Italian markets fell sharply while others in Europe and around the world opened down.

Centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi said fresh elections should be avoided, and called for a period of reflection.

The BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome says he was hinting at the possibility of considering what would be a very awkward alliance with his opponents on the centre-left.

With all domestic votes counted, Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left bloc won the lower house vote but has failed to secure a majority in the Senate. Control of both houses is needed to govern.

A protest movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo won 25%, but the centrist bloc led by current Prime Minister Mario Monti came a poor fourth, with about 10%.

The outcome of the election, which comes amid a deep recession and tough austerity measures, was so close between the two main blocs that the margin of victory given in interior ministry figures was less than 1% in both houses of parliament.

The winning bloc automatically gets a majority in the lower house, but seats in the Senate depend more on success in individual regions.

‘Jump to nowhere’

European politicians reacted with a mixture of calm and concern.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the result “creates problems” but would not undermine the European single currency.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, meanwhile, urged Italy to continue its reforms, and called for a government to be formed “as quickly as possible”.

But his Spanish counterpart there was “extreme concern” about the financial consequences.

“This is a jump to nowhere that does not bode well either for Italy or for Europe,” Garcia-Margallo said, quoted by Reuters news agency.

Shares and the euro fell as the outcome of the election became clear, amid concern that the reform agenda would be delayed.

Italy’s FTSE MIB index fell 4.7%, while London’s FTSE 100 shed 1.5% and share markets in Frankfurt and Paris also fell more than 2%.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.55% and Asian markets lost between 0.7% and 2.2%.

The yield on Italian government bonds rose sharply, implying markets are more wary of lending to Italy.


BBC economics correspondent Andrew Walker says it will be difficult to form a new government with an agreed economic programme.

As Mr Berlusconi conceded to his opponents in the lower house, he said that everyone should now reflect on what to do next so that fresh elections could be avoided.

“Italy must be governed,” Mr Berlusconi said. “Everyone must be prepared to make sacrifices.”

He would not do a deal with Mr Monti’s centrist bloc, he added, saying that the prime minister’s poor showing was down to popular discontent with his austerity measures.

Mr Berlusconi, 76, left office in November 2011, facing claims of economic mismanagement as the eurozone struggled to contain Italy’s debt crisis.

Italians have had more than a year of technocratic government under Mario Monti. But his attempts to reduce spending caused widespread public resentment and his decision to head a centrist list in the parliamentary elections attracted little more than 10% of the vote.

In a surge in support, Beppe Grillo’s anti-austerity Five Star Movement attracted more than a quarter of the vote, making it the most popular single party in the lower chamber.

Correspondents say this was an extraordinary success for the Genoese comic, whose tours around the country throughout the election campaign – hurling insults against a discredited political class – resulted in his party performing well in both chambers.

Source: BBC