Egypt opposition to boycott polls

Egypt’s main opposition group, the National Salvation Front (NSF), will boycott the forthcoming parliamentary elections, a spokesman says.

Spokesman Sameh Ashour said the move was in response to an absence of guarantees that the polls would be transparent, AFP news agency reported.

It comes days after President Mohammed Morsi announced the date for the elections, to be held over four days.

Judges dissolved the previous assembly, saying polls were unconstitutional.

The first round of voting in Cairo and four other provinces is due to be held on 22 April.

In the last elections, in January 2012, Islamist parties won a majority.

Egypt has since been deeply divided between Islamists and a liberal and secular opposition.

Last weekend, NSF leader Mohamed ElBaradei called for a boycott of fresh polls, branding them “a deception”.

Source: BBC


This Minority is the most disappointing in Ghana’s history – NDC MP

National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Shai Osudoku Constituency David Tetteh Assumeng says the Minority of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic is the most disappointing he has witnessed.

Speaking to TV3’s Edward Kwabi at the Parliament House on Tuesday, Hon. Assumeng, who has been MP for the Constituency since 2004, says to go to an extent of not recognizing a legitimate president is unacceptable on the part of the Minority members.

“Since my being in Parliament, I believe the current Minority is the most disappointing I have witnessed,” he told Edward Kwabi.

“Boycotts are accepted but not to the extent of refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the president of the Land,” he added.

The Minority has refused to engage in any activity that suggests it is helping President John Dramani Mahama run his government as its party, New Patriotic Party, is challenging the results of the 2012 Elelctions at the Supreme Court.



IEA pushes for an Affirmative Action Bill

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has hinted that it will front the development of an Affirmative Action Bill in Parliament.

The Bill is to bridge the gap between men and women in politics.

Out of the 275 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Sixth Parliament only 29 are women which is not reflective of the 51 per cent women command in Ghana’s estimated 25 million population.

Speaking on TV3 News on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, Executive Director of IEA Jean Mensah hinted that a programme will soon roll out to gather women from all sectors of the society in a committee to push for the Affirmative Action Bill.

“As part of the programme, a small committee will be set up in-house of credible, reputable women, who represent various sectors of our society and the idea is to seek their views in the development of an Affirmative Action Bill,” she said.

MP for Asokwa Constituency Patricia Appiagyei called for reorientation of men on affirmative action so that they can see women as partners.

“We need to partner men. Men live with certain perceptions. They live with cultural ideologies and if we are not able to disabuse their minds on these issues what will happen is that they will continue to frustrate our move to progress in increasing the number of women in decision making,” she said.

She spoke highly of the 29 women MPs in the Sixth Parliament.

“Most of the women in Parliament had their bait because people believed in women taking decisions in governance and that is why they are ther,” she said

She added that most of them are likely to retain their seats if they choose to stand in the next elections

“If I’m to assess their capacities as women now, it is not too much of a challenge to perform for people to give them another term to be in parliament,” she stressed.



Voting underway in Buem Constituency

Electorates in the Buem Constituency have lined up to vote for a new Member of Parliament to replace the late Henry Ford Kamel.The second by-election after the 2012 General Elections was instanced by the death of Ford Kamel on December 25, 2012.

Five candidates are vying to win the seat.

Daniel Kwasi Ashiamah, 43, is running on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), whose candidate has won the seat since 1992.

The marketer has promised to continue the vision of the former MP.

“We are looking at continuity,” he told our correspondent Komla Klutse.

Asked whether he will be beneficiary of sympathy votes, Mr Ashiamah said: “That is natural because losing a gem who was also a regional minister should attract some votes for you.”

Mr Ashiamah’s major contender is Progressive People’s Party’s Ellis Akoto-Ade, a retired educationist.

“My topmost priority is education,” he told Komla Klutse.

According to him, standard of education in the constituency has fallen and it will be an area he would channel much effort into if he wins the seat.

The other contestants are People’s National Convention’s Adams Darko-Boateng, 29, Convention People’s Party’s Nelson Bediako Asafo, 46, and National Vision Party’s Alhaji Muniru, 38.

In all, there are 37, 197 registered voters in the Constituency with 84 polling stations.

There is no candidate from New Patriotic Party, Ghana’s largest opposition party, as a result of the court challenge of the 2012 Election results.



Boateng Gyan’s comments made out of ignorance – Minority Leader

Minority Leader of Parliament and Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame Constituency Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu says comments made by Yaw Boateng Gyan, the National Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to the effect that ministers, who answered questions from the Minority should be punished, were out of ignorance of the laws within the House.

Speaking to TV3’s Edward Kwabi on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, Mr Mensah Bonsu stated that: “The admissibility of a question rests with the Speaker.”

“So if a member files a question, it goes to the Speaker, who assesses it and admits if he deems it appropriate to accord the question such admission,” he added.

He explained that the question may be related to a policy of a ministry.

“Because the minister is the head of that ministry, he will be called to answer the question that may be filed,” he told Edward Kwabi in his office.

He said the comments by the NDC national organiser was borne out of ignorance.

“Those are matters that if my senior brother Yaw Boateng Gyan knew, he would not have made the interventions that he made,” he stressed.

‘Go, sleep and think’

The Minority Leader’s stance was corroborated by former Deputy Majority Leader and Member of Parliament for Wa Central Constituency, Alhaji Hassan Rashid Pelpuo, who said no punitive measure can be meted out to a minister who comes to answer questions posed by Members of Parliament.

He, however, took a swipe at the Minority’s boycott actions.

“They (Minority MPs) should be allowed to ask questions if they want to but they should go and sleep and think of what they are doing and see whether their actions are building Ghana or destroying the foundation of our democracy,” he burst out.



PNC woman swindles MP of GH¢180, 000

A  parliamentary candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC) in the 2012 general election, Humni Sinari, has been arrested by the Madina Police for allegedly defrauding a Member of Parliament (MP) of GH¢180,000 under the pretext of selling an abandoned filling station at Dome to the MP.

Three accomplices — Kojo Opoku, 40, a carpenter; Kofi Sarkodie, also known as Yusif Seidu, 37, a caretaker, and Ernest Kofi, 50, a trader — who acted as assistants to Humni Sinari have also been arrested.

The suspects are currently assisting the police in investigations.

According to Superintendent Joseph Owusu-Bempah, the Madina District Police Commander, the Deputy Manager of the Tudu branch of the SG/SSB had also been invited by the police to explain how an amount of GH¢180,000 paid on Saturday, February 16, 2013 was cleared the same day by the main suspect.

He said the whole incident started some time in January this year when Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, the MP for Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam, had a call from one Kojo Opoku, who informed the MP that he had bought the Engen Petrol Filling Station at Dome from its owner, Madam Grace Omaboe, and that he (Opoku) was offering it for sale.

Mr Forson,  who is also the owner of Omega Energy Limited, expressed interest in the filling station.

After a series of exchanges between Opoku and the complainant, Mr Forson inspected the property.

During the inspection of the property, he met Sarkodie, who corroborated what Opoku had said and even gave the MP Madam Grace Omaboe’s phone number to confirm their claim.

Apparently, instead of Grace Omaboe’s number, Sarkodie and Opoku gave Humni Sinari’s mobile phone to the MP.

When the MP called her, Sinari introduced herself as a teacher and owner of the property and confirmed that she had given it to Opoku to look for buyers, since she needed money for other projects.

They negotiated the price of the property and settled on GH¢480,000.

During the course of the negotiations, suspect Sinari told the MP that she was the firstborn of Alhaji Sadik Sinari, Ghana’s Ambassador to Egypt under the First Republic.

That introduction was said to have convinced the MP that he was dealing with a genuine person.

Supt. Owusu-Bempah said the MP decided to seal the deal and, therefore, made an initial payment of GH¢180,000 into the account of Sinari’s account at the Tudu Branch of the SG/SSB on Saturday, February 16, 2013.

Sinari was said to have withdrawn all the GH¢180,000 from her account that same day.

The following day, which was a Sunday, when the MP went to take ownership of the property, he learnt that the woman to whom he had paid the money was not the real owner of the property.

He was then taken to the residence of the real owner, Madam Omaboe, who explained that although she was offering the place for sale, nobody had shown any interest.

At that stage, the MP realised that he had been swindled and so he called Sinari and asked her to come for the rest of the money.

Before that, he had alerted the police, and so, as soon as Sinari arrived the police arrested her.

When a bag she was carrying was searched, GH¢20,000 was found in it.

However, upon interrogation, she claimed that after cashing the money from the bank, she handed it over to Ernest Kofi.

The police traced Ernest Kofi to his house at Adenta and arrested him.

After initial interrogations, Kofi also claimed that he had given the money to an Alhaji to double it for him but the man absconded with the money.

Supt Owusu-Bempah said it was unlikely that they had used the money as they claimed.

Investigations are ongoing, after which the suspects would be put before court.

Source: Daily Graphic


Voter turn-out low in ongoing Buem by-election

Voter turn-out is quite low in the ongoing by-elections in the Buem Constituency, our correspondent says.Komla Klutse, reporting on Midday Live, pointed out, however, that the process has been generally peaceful.

Security officials seem to be every where, he says.

You see them every one meter or two, he adds.

Komla reports that collation is scheduled to be done at the Jasikan District Assembly Hall.

Five candidates are contesting the seat, which became vacant after the death of Henry Ford Kamel, who retained the seat in the 2012 Elections.

He died on Christmas Day.



If policies won elections in Ghana, PPP would’ve won 2012 Elections in first round – PPP member

A member of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has stated that it had one of the multi-faceted manifestoes going into the December 7/8 Elections though founded eight months earlier.

“Mention any national issue and I can tell you the PPP had a message on that,” Kwabena Okyere said on TV3’s News @ 10.

According to him, that the PPP convinced over 60,000 electorates in few months shows it has become a force to reckon with in Ghana politics.

“It is a signal that we did not form a one-election party but a party that can win elections in Ghana,” he told host Bright Nana Amfoh on Monday.

The 2012 PPP parliamentary candidate for Tema Central Constituency said Ghanaian electorates would have voted PPP into power if they were not afraid of change.

“Black people are afraid of change,” he stated.

He said the party, which has lined up a series of activities to mark its first anniversary, will channel effort into urging electorates to vote for it.

“The greatest challenge is getting people not only to like you but to vote for you,” he stressed.

“We just have to continue building,” he added.

PPP’s Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom polled 64, 267 in last year’s elections to come third among the presidential aspirants. His votes represented 0.58 per cent of the total valid votes cast.



Italy votes in election seen as key for economic recovery

Polls have opened for a second and final day in Italy’s general election – a vote seen as crucial for efforts to tackle the country’s economic problems, as well as for the eurozone.

Turnout on Sunday was 55%, a drop of 7% compared with the 2008 elections, with bad weather partly being blamed.

Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left bloc is believed to have a narrow lead over Silvio Berlusconi’s alliance.

But a new protest party appears to be on course for an impressive result.

The anti-establishment movement led by former comedian Beppe Grillo drew huge crowds during its rallies in the final stages of the election campaign.

The election was called two months ahead of schedule, after Mr Berlusconi’s party withdrew its support for Mario Monti’s technocratic government.

‘Getting favours’

Italians will vote until 15:00 (14:00 GMT), and the first results are expected within hours.

But there is huge uncertainty as to what the results may bring, although everyone believes the outcome will be close, the BBC’s Alan Johnston reports from Rome.

Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) was a consistent frontrunner in the pre-election opinion polls at nearly 35%, and is widely believed to remain in the lead.

But Mr Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) centre-right alliance, which narrowed the PD lead in the final weeks of campaigning, may have done enough to prevent his opponents winning an overall majority, our correspondent says.

Mr Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) was running third in the polls, with Mr Monti’s party expected to gain fourth place.

The elections are taking place amid a deep recession and austerity measures, brought in by Mr Monti’s government, that have caused widespread public resentment.

They are also being closely watched in the eurozone, with the Italian government’s future commitment to austerity measures particularly under scrutiny.

If he wins the election, Mr Bersani, a former Communist, has pledged to continue with Mr Monti’s reforms, but suggests current European policy needs to do more to promote growth and jobs.

Emerging from one polling station in Milan, voter Attilio Bianchetti told Reuters: “I’m not confident that the government that emerges from the election will be able to solve any of our problems.”

Luciana Li Mandri, a civil servant in Palermo, shared his pessimism: “We’re all about getting favours when we study, getting a protected job when we work. That’s the way we are and we can only be represented by people like that as well.”

‘The best’

As Mr Berlusconi voted in Milan on Sunday, he was confronted by topless women with Basta Berlusconi (Enough Berlusconi) scrawled on them.

The three-time PM is embroiled in two trials, accused of tax fraud and sex with an underage prostitute.

He has also been under fire for giving a TV interview on Saturday, which opponents said was a breach of the campaigning ban.

Mr Berlusconi’s office said the interview had been granted only with the explicit agreement that it would be broadcast after polls close on Monday.

Some 47 million eligible voters are electing both chambers of parliament – the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

The electoral system is based on proportional representation and party lists, with a series of thresholds to encourage parties to form coalitions.

Recent polls have suggested that Mr Bersani’s alliance could easily win the lower house of parliament, but may fail to gain a majority in the Senate.

The Senate is elected on a region-by-region basis and much may depend on the results from the heavily-populated regions around Milan and Naples, our correspondent notes.

Many predict Mr Bersani will seek to form a coalition with Mr Monti if he fails to win an outright majority.

However, observers say that the race has been thrown wide open by the popularity of Mr Grillo’s M5S movement, whose activists show a searing contempt for Italy’s traditional parties and the whole political establishment.

Source: BBC


Veep pays tribute in memory of Ford Kamel

Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur has charged Voltarians especially constituents of Buem in the Jasikan District to jealously guard the peace and unity in the area as they begin the process of electing a new candidate to represent them in Parliament.

He said, the Volta region has over the years produced very competent individuals with a high sense of commitment to duty and who have in their own ways shaped the destiny of the country.

The vice president made this appeal when he led a government delegation to the funeral of the late Hon. Henry Ford Kamel who passed on last year on Christmas Day.

He was the former Member of Parliament for the Buem Constituency and a former Volta Region Minister.

Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur reminded the gathering of the need to be humble, hard-working and selfless and dedicated to the course of development.

These virtues according to Vice President Amissah-Arthur were very visible in the life of the late Member of Parliament for the Buem Constituency.

 Source: The Presidency