Best social interventions in Ghana have been under Nkrumah and Kufuor – Antwi Danso

Senior Research Fellow at the Legon Center for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD) Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso has stressed that the best social intervention programmes introduced in Ghana since Kwame Nkrumah’s overthrow has been under the presidency of John Agyekum Kufuor.

“One of the best interventions we have as a country is pregnant women going to hospital for free, the poor also getting medical care for free,” Dr Antwi-Danso said on TV3’s weekend news analysis programme Headlines.

He, however, condemned the activities of the two major political parties – the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party – in embarking upon projects when in government to outwit each other.

He described such act as “a kind of cat and mouse game”, saying it is the people that suffer.

“It is not working,” he stressed.

According to him, there should be a clear-cut development policy for the country, whose people would ensure that any political party that assumes government follows the laid-down policy.

“I would always advocate that the NDPC [National Development Planning Council] should be turned into an autonomous body to plan for the country,” he suggested.

While he lauded the great initiatives by Dr Kwame Nkrumah in the First Republic, the academician implied Ex-President Kufuor’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is a pro-poor programme that is laudable.

Dr Antwi-Danso also welcomed plaudits given Ghana across the globe as a beacon of democracy on the African continent.

“If Ghana has been touted as a beacon of democracy, I accept it,” he indicated.

He, however, cautioned there is room for improvement since “democracy is not perfect anywhere”.

Dr Antwi-Danso cited the transfer of power in 2008 and the 2012 election challenge in court as testimony to Ghana’s democratic credentials but said: “As soon as we bring in indiscipline and lose our institutionalism and constitutionalism, we are doomed.”



Guinea to hold polls with or without opposition: minister

Guinea will hold long-delayed parliamentary elections this year, to conclude its transition to civilian rule, with or without the participation of the country’s main opposition coalition, a government minister said on Friday.

The mineral-rich country was originally supposed to hold the vote in 2011 – but it was held up amid wrangling over the makeup of the electoral commission and opposition accusations that the government was planning to rig it.

Eight people were killed and hundreds more wounded during two weeks of clashes this month between security forces and opposition protesters demanding reforms before the election, currently scheduled for May 12, could be held.

Guinea’s minister for territorial administration, Alhassane Conde, told Reuters the objections would not block the vote.

“Yes, the elections will be held this year, very soon, with or without the opposition,” Conde said in an interview at his office in the capital Conakry’s administrative district.

“We don’t want to do it without them, but if necessary, we will go ahead and hold the election without them,” he said.

The vote is meant to be the last step in a drawn-out transition to civilian rule after a coup in late 2008 led to two bloody years with the army in charge.

Conde accused some members of the opposition of making unacceptable conditions to try and delay elections he said they feared losing.

Opposition groups have alleged there were irregularities in awarding a contract to update the electoral register to the South African firm Waymark – and demanded a replacement.

“If we were to bring in a new company to replace Waymark, there is no way we’ll be able to organize the election within the next six months,” said Conde.

The European Union, a major donor, unblocked about 174 million euros ($223.43 million) in aid after the elections commission proposed a date for the parliamentary polls late last year. But Conde said Guinea risked losing future donor funding if elections were not held by September.


The opposition this week walked out of talks with the government organized in the wake of this month’s violence, accusing the ruling coalition of failing to respect the terms of a planned dialogue over election preparations.

The opposition coalition on Friday called for another round of protests and a strike from April 8, saying the government has not contacted them since they abandoned the talks.

Guinea’s main opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, who lost to President Alpha Conde in a tight presidential run-off in November 2010, told Reuters last week the opposition would do everything to stop the election if it was held without them. President Conde is not related to the minister.

“We’ll not participate in the election with Waymark handling the technical process, and we’ll disrupt it. We do not want the election to be held without us,” Diallo told Reuters during a visit to Senegal.

Guinea is the world’s top supplier of the aluminum ore bauxite and holds rich deposits of iron ore, gold and diamonds. But the political turmoil has unnerved investors.

Behind Guinea’s political feuding there is a deep-rooted rivalry between the Malinke and the Peul, its two largest ethnic groups. The Malinke broadly support President Conde, while the opposition draws heavily from the Peul.

Source: Reuters


Appointments C’tee vets three ministerial nominees

The Appointments Committee of Parliament on Friday vetted three of President John Dramani Mahama’s nominees for regional ministers.

Julius Debrah, the Eastern Region Minister-designate, Dr Ephraim Avea Nsoh, Minister-designate for the Upper East Region and Helen Adjoa Ntoso, Volta Region Minister-designate were vetted.

Mr Debrah, who is also the former Director General of the Ghana Tourism Authority, underscored the tourism potentials of the Eastern Region, saying a special effort will be put in enhancing it, together with agriculture.

“The Region abounds in a lot of potentials and I can classify them under tourism, under agriculture and even human resource base. We need to have a special effort in encouraging agriculture and not just leaving at the production end but also thinking of a way of introducing agro-processing industries in the Region,” he said.

Dr Avea Nsoh, on his part, promised a flagship programme from which the poor in the Upper East Region will benefit.

“We realized that the women are the main people in the Region who actually do basketry and other craftwork…that is my flagship programme that I think will affect the very people who are doing crafts,” he stated.

Ms Ntoso’s work is carved out in working to calm down inter-tribal disputes that have plagued the Volta Region in recent times.

Some chiefs, who were in attendance during her vetting, asked feuding parties to cooperate in order to make the only female regional minister nominee successful when she is approved.

“We have to create the enabling environment like peace and understanding. There are too many disputes in the area. If we can understand these things and mellow our positions the woman can deliver,” said one of the chiefs.



Italian president rules out new vote as parties wrangle

President Giorgio Napolitano ruled out an early return to the polls on Friday as Italy’s parties wrangled over how to form a government after this week’s deadlocked election.

Speaking during a state visit to Berlin, Napolitano said Italy needed a stable government and could not immediately hold a new election.

“I’m not interested in going back to vote again,” he told reporters at the margins of an event at the Humboldt University.

Napolitano’s mandate ends in mid-May but he said his successor would be just as reluctant to call a new vote.

“I doubt that a new president will be thinking only of new elections. We’ll have to see how to give Italy a government,” the head of state said.

He made his comments as the three main blocs in parliament grappled with the aftermath of a vote that has left none with a workable majority and has revived fears of a return to the euro zone debt crisis.

Economic data on Friday underlined the extent of the problems a new government will face, with youth unemployment rising to a record of almost 39 percent and public debt at 127 percent of gross domestic product.

Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose center-left coalition has a lower house majority but not enough seats to control the Senate, ruled out a “grand coalition” with Silvio Berlusconi’s center right.

“I want to spell it out clearly: the idea of a grand coalition does not exist and will never exist,” he told the daily La Repubblica in an interview on Friday.

This shut off one of two apparent options for a new government, by closing the door on a formal alliance between the two biggest parties – which both backed the technocrat government of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti.

On Friday Berlusconi appeared in court at one of the three trials he is currently facing and denied allegations of tax fraud. He has also rejected separate accusations that he paid bribes to bring down Italy’s last center-left government in 2006.

The legal cases are one of the reasons there is huge opposition in Bersani’s party to any alliance with the scandal-plagued media baron. Rank-and-file members believe any alliance with Berlusconi would bleed even more of their support to the anti-establishment party of Beppe Grillo.

Grillo’s 5-Star Movement, which rode a huge protest vote to become Italy’s third force in the election, has ruled out giving a vote of confidence to another party but says it may back individual laws.

In a sign of the tensions, the comic and blogger accused the PD of trying to persuade a number of 5-Star members to support a center-left government.

“The 5-Star Movement, its deputies, its activists and its voters are not for sale. Bersani is finished and he doesn’t realize it,” he said in a blog post.

Grillo, whose Internet-based movement has shaken up Italian politics, has described the 61-year-old former industry minister as a “dead man talking” and said the next government will not last more than a year.


Bersani has refused to resign despite the center left throwing away a 10-point opinion poll lead with a weak campaign that let both Berlusconi and Grillo exploit public anger over the economy to make huge strides in the weeks before the vote.

But he is under pressure and there is speculation he could be replaced, possibly by Matteo Renzi, the dynamic young mayor of Florence whom he defeated in last year’s primary to select the leader of the center-left coalition.

Without majority support in both houses of parliament, a government cannot pass legislation or win a vote of confidence and the deadlock between the parties has left it completely unclear how a new administration could be formed.

Bersani told La Repubblica he would present a program based around a limited number of points, many of which are in line with Grillo’s platform, and seek the support of parliament.

“You can call it what you want, a minority government, a government of limited purpose, I don’t care,” he said.

He said he would also present measures to strengthen the welfare system, cut the size of Italy’s bloated parliament and reduce the generous salaries and benefits of deputies, among the best paid in Europe.

In addition, he would propose a series of measures to fight corruption and limit conflicts of interest for politicians.

Bersani said he would seek to ease the austerity programs imposed by Monti with the approval of the European Union, saying he had consulted French Socialist President Francois Hollande. He added: “Austerity on its own leads to disaster.”

“Everyone has to get it into their head that bringing down the debt and the deficit is an issue which has to be shifted to the medium term,” he said. “At the moment, there is another priority, which is jobs.”

After an initial sell-off, financial markets have so far taken the instability largely in their stride, but the deadlock has raised fears the euro zone debt crisis, which brought Monti to power in 2011, could flare up again.

Italy has pledged to balance its budget in structural, or growth-adjusted terms, this year but the austerity measures imposed by Monti to reach the goal have pushed it deeper into recession.

Data from statistics agency Istat showed that even in terms of budget policy, the tax hikes and spending cuts imposed by Monti’s technocrat government had limited effect, with Italy only just scraping within European Union limits.

Source: Reuters


There’s no hope for Ghana under Prez Mahama – Kwaku Kwarteng

Member of Parliament for Obuasi West Constituency Kwaku Agyemang Kwarteng has questioned the source of hope promised by President John Dramani Mahama while delivering his state-of-the-nation address.

“I am a citizen of Ghana and I want to know, in the face of this dum so dum so, what the source of hope for the country is?” he asked on TV3’s current affairs programme Agenda on Thursday, February 28, 2013.

According to him, government has failed to keep its promise to Ghanaians and no plans have been put in place for an end in sight.

This was quickly discounted by Minister for Private Sector Development Alhaji Hassan Rashid Pelpuo, who was also on the programme.

He said there is a renewed appreciation of Ghana’s economic disposition and that is what was succinctly elucidated in President Mahama’s state-of-the-nation address.

“We must come to terms with the reality,” he advised, adding that that is the reason why the president said in his address the meat is now down to the bones.