Prez Mahama’s first 100 days: Group labels opposition irresponsible; scores NPP 12%

A pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) group, Inside Ghana, has down-rated the level of opposition given President John Dramani Mahama in his first 100 days in office.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, Inside Ghana says “the opposition NPP has been the biggest failure in the chain of government in the first 100 days.”

Below is the full statement:


The 100 days philosophy pioneered by Franklin D. Roosevelt after taking office in 1933 has become a tradition observed by most democracies worldwide. Though not a perfect measure, it has over the years been accepted in political spheres as a benchmark for gauging governments’ effectiveness and Ghana is no different. The underlying principle is that, people tend to be most effective when they first take office as leadership style is fresh and new and the aura of victory is still powerfully woven and visibly evident in their actions.

Under the democratization process, the performance of any government is a functionality of competitive party politics and therefore it will be improper for any debate or assessment of the first 100 days of H.E the President, John Dramani Mahama not to take into cognizance the performance of that of the opposition. Competitive multi party systems undoubtedly deepen democratization by providing electorate with electoral alternatives and therefore the role of opposition party is as crucial as that of the incumbent party.

Inside Ghana therefore brings to fore, an assessment of the New Patriotic Party over the last 100 days. Though we acknowledge the difficulty in which the opposition is having to deal with the disappointment and heartbreak they suffered during the December 2012 polls, it is no grounds for them to renege on their constitutionally mandated responsibilities.

In a democracy, opposition parties are expected to perform the following functions but not limited to;

    Promote responsible and reasoned debate
    Hold government to account for its commissions or omissions on behalf of the people
    Present a viable alternative to the incumbent government by designing alternative ideas, principles and policies for governing the society
    Work with electoral commission, the mass media and civil society organizations to monitor and improve the quality of voter registration, civic education and electoral transparency
    And finally champion interest aggregation of political community which culminates in the articulation and projection of certain preferences, values and ideologies into policy and law making process.

By the above criteria, we at Inside Ghana believes the opposition NPP has been the biggest failure in the chain of government in the first 100 days. Their actions, conduct and utterances regrettably are alien to democratization process. Ghanaians will ardently recall with great anguish the violence they visited on innocent persons in NDC paraphernalia, the bastardization of state institutions and most recently the incessant calls of leading members for coup are all but a few shameful instances of gross irresponsibility and recklessness.

It is also worthy of note that in that same breadth, some civil society groups and think tanks such as IMANI Ghana have become the vehicle in which the opposition NPP are driving some of their irresponsible agenda which seek to derail the development process of the country in order for the President to be seen as a failure. A typical example was when a leading director of IMANI Ghana, Kofi B Bentil used his facebook page to call on teachers and other worker unions to resort to strike when negotiations were ongoing. An illegal conduct we find very disgusting. Again a board member at IMANI, Budu Koomson, recently followed in the direction of coup mongers such as Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Ken Ofori-Attah, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh and Sammy Awuku, (all leading members of the NPP) when he said the grounds are fertile for coup.

Again the choose and pick attitude of minority members in parliament regarding their participation in parliamentary proceedings is not only shameful but a case of non productivity and financial loss to the State as tax payers money is doled out to these members of parliament for no work done.

From the above, Inside Ghana gives a score of 12% to the performance of the opposition NPP. But for the recent call on Ghana Medical Association to rescind their strike decision by the General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, one would have scored the opposition a negative mark. Opposition parties play very significant role in government as representatives of their constituents to safe guard their interest especially in the legislature.

Ghana needs a responsible opposition to query and interrogate government’s appointees, policy directives and ideas so as to provide the needed lubricant in moving the engine of an economy in a democracy. A score of 12% is unacceptable. We urge all and sundry to take a critical analysis of the opposition NPP.



Guinea: Opposition to protest election date

The Guinean opposition on Sunday called for a march to protest President Alpha Conde’s announcement that elections will be held on June 30.

Opposition supporters will hold a peaceful demonstration in the capital, Conakry, on April 18 to protest the date of the elections, said Aboubacar Sylla, spokesman for the Guinean opposition.

“We are determinated to bar the way to any attempt of fraud perpetrated by the government. We will walk to express our dissatisfaction on Thursday to deal with this unilateral decision of the authority to set the date while negotiations are ongoing,” said Sylla.

The presidential decree was read Saturday evening on national television following months of negotiations over the vote.

The West African country has not had a functioning parliament for four years, and it only held its first democratic presidential election in 2010. Disagreements over the electoral process already have spilled over into violent protests.

Originally the vote was scheduled for May 12, but the opposition said it was pulling out because of concerns over election procedures.

Guinea suffered decades of dictatorship and strongman rule before the 2010 vote. Ethnic tensions, however, have risen in the deeply impoverished country since the landmark election.

Guinea’s 10 million people are among the world’s poorest, even though the country has resources of diamonds, gold, iron and half the world’s reserves of the raw material used to make aluminum.

Source: AP


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


Grenada opposition wins clean sweep in general election

Preliminary results of the general election on the Caribbean island of Grenada suggest a landslide win for the opposition New National Party (NNP).

Election supervisors said the preliminary figures showed the NNP had won all 15 seats.

The governing National Democratic Congress admitted defeat.

If the results are confirmed, Keith Mitchell, who served three terms as prime minister between 1995 and 2008, will return to power.

The main theme during the election was the economic crisis.

Grenada has a 30% unemployment rate and the Caribbean Development Bank recently warned Grenada that it had unsustainable debt levels.

During his campaign, Mr Mitchell promised to make job creation his priority.

After the preliminary results came in, catapulting his party from four seats to 15, he said he would also strive to unite the country.

“The victor is the one who has to reach out, the one who lost can’t be expected to reach out; national unity will be a serious platform,” he said.

He asked Grenadians “to have patience” with the new government, and to give it a chance to implement policies he said would revive the stalled economy.

The country has been struggling to recover from major destruction caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Dozens of people were killed and 90% of the island’s buildings were destroyed. Grenada’s main export crop, nutmeg, was also devastated.

Source: BBC


Armenian president re-elected, opposition cries foul

Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan has won a new five-year term, the Central Electoral Commission said on Tuesday.

Police said after polls closed on Monday that they had received 70 reports of voting violations, including bribery at polling stations, and that they had opened two criminal investigations.

The president, 58, has vowed to sustain economic recovery in his landlocked South Caucasus country and said before the vote he would ensure stability and security after years of war and upheaval though he outlined no big policy changes.

Preliminary results released by the Central Electoral Commission showed Sarksyan had won 58.6 percent of the votes cast. His closest rival, U.S.-born Raffi Hovannisian, who served previously as foreign minister, was on nearly 37 percent of votes.

The preliminary results followed an exit poll immediately after voting ended in the former Soviet republic which had put Sarksyan on 58 percent of the votes.

The opposition Heritage Party said that some ballots cast for opposition parties had been thrown out, although there was no indication whether it would challenge the vote, which passed without any major violence.

Source: Reuters


Myanmar opposition holds first party congress

Nearly 900 representatives from Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party gathered Friday in Myanmar’s main city to elect their leadership for the first time in the group’s 25-year history.

It is a sign of how far Myanmar has come with political reforms that the gathering, which runs through Sunday in Yangon, is allowed at all. It’s also a test for the National League for Democracy, which is working to transform itself from a party of one into a structurally viable political opposition in time for national elections in 2015.

NLD officials hope the first all-party congress will make the structure and operations of the party more reflective of its democratic ideals and infuse its aging ranks with youth, diversity and new expertise.

“Our party must be renewed and reformed,” said Tin Oo, 86, who helped found the NLD and is overseeing the organization of the all-party congress. “We are going to advocate for democracy, so our party must be based on democratization.”

Forged under authoritarian rule, the NLD has been, in some ways, a mirror image of the country’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party. Unable to convene party meetings, with its leaders often jailed and the party itself officially banned for much of its existence, the NLD could not hold elections. Leaders had to be appointed. Secret and summary decisions had to be made. And in the unforgiving narrative of repression which has long governed Myanmar there were heroes who were not to be questioned any more than the villains they fought.

“Our party was a democratic party and the party was run by people not elected but selected; individuals like myself and Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Win Tin, 83, a journalist and one of the NLD’s three surviving founders.

In November 1988, within two months of the NLD’s founding, the party’s top leadership began planning an all-party congress to elect local and national level leaders, but was only able to hold a few township elections.

“Then all of us were sent to jail and kept there for a long time,” said Win Tin.

On Friday morning, representatives from across the country stood in neat lines outside the Taw Win restaurant, waiting to be screened for entry. Above them a row of red NLD party flags, decorated with yellow fighting peacocks, fluttered in the early light. The mood was ebullient and hopeful, as people greeted old friends and colleagues.

“I am very excited to be here,” said Nan, a 46-year old from a ruby-rich area of the northern Mandalay region, who goes by one name. “This is a step in the right direction and we hope to see the NLD transforming into a more democratic structure, in line with the changes taking place in the country.”

In addition to electing leadership committees and a party chairman at the congress, the party aims to decide on a coherent policy platform this weekend. Win Tin hopes a new, younger generation of leaders who better reflect the country’s ethnic diversity will emerge.

“At least we will have picked some people capable of leadership,” he said. “We hope. We don’t know yet.”

The structure of democracy is one thing, its culture another. Most members of the NLD, like the people of Myanmar itself, understand the contours of democracy only through its absence. This lack of a developed political culture, some party members say, contributed to infighting and irregularities that marred some of the more than 17,000 local elections the party has convened since mid-2012 in preparation for the congress.

The years of repression and Suu Kyi’s unique, iconic stature — she is greeted by villagers with cries of “Long live mother!” — have also centralized decision-making, which critics say is bad for the broader project of democracy in the country and could weaken the NLD in upcoming elections.

“All the party decisions are dependent on just Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and became a burden to her,” said Yan Myo Thein, a 43-year-old former student activist and political analyst, who is not a member of the NLD. “The decisions are made only by one person and this is bad for the future of the country and the country’s reforms. If the party goes on like this, the support of the people on NLD will waver.”

These days, the tables outside the NLD’s Yangon headquarters are littered with the junk of celebrity. There are Aung San Suu Kyi mugs, key chains, postcards, posters, photos, pins, fans and even a few corporate day planners. All are for sale.

Inside, the tight, two-story space is plastered with her image — ever beautiful and poised — and that of her father, General Aung San, who is regarded as the founder of independent Myanmar.

One could be forgiven for mistaking the place a shrine, except for the general dishevelment and buzz of activity.

Some argue that the NLD needs a single, strong leader in order to tackle their formidable opponents from the ruling USDP party — men who come from the military and understand the power of hierarchy and loyalty — but others fear that the party is not currently strong enough to survive without Suu Kyi.

Phyu Phyu Thin, an HIV activist and an NLD parliamentarian, doesn’t want to speculate on a future without her.

“We pray for her good health,” she said.

Source: AP


Nigeria’s opposition merges in bid to unseat ruling party

Nigeria’s four main opposition parties have announced a merger, forming a coalition which could pose the biggest threat to President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling party since the end of military rule in 1999.

Previous attempts at opposition alliances have fallen apart due to infighting and regional differences. The president’s party is likely to now target any weaknesses in the merger.

If the newly created party holds together it will be sternly tested when trying to agree on a presidential candidate for the 2015 election.

“At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent,” said a statement signed on Wednesday by representatives of the four parties.

“We, the following progressive political parties, namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC, have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressive Congress and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.”

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has won every presidential election since a return to civilian rule 14 years ago. It controls around two-thirds of the states and has a healthy majority in both houses of the national assembly.

The four merging parties control almost all the remaining seats and marginally reduced the PDP’s majority in both the states and parliament in elections in 2011.

“All the main opposition leaders have for some time backed the concept of a merger; the challenge will be to translate such common purpose from principle to practice,” said Nigeria analyst Antony Goldman, head of Africa-focused PM Consulting.

“Policy and ideology do not feature prominently in a political discourse in Nigeria that is principally about winning or losing – and personal rivalries,” Goldman said.

The PDP gave a confident response to the announcement.

“Beautiful. The more the merrier,” the party’s national chairman Bamanga Tukur told reporters.

“They are not a threat at all … PDP is Messi in that contest,” likening his party to the all-conquering Argentina and Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi.

Tightly fought elections in Africa’s biggest oil producer can often stoke violence. Hundreds were killed in riots in the mostly Muslim north when Christian southerner Jonathan won the presidential vote two years ago.

The merger, two years before the vote, will turn politician’s attention to elections and away from vital reforms needed to support Africa’s second largest economy.

It also mounts pressure on Jonathan to rally support from within his party and outside if he is to win re-election.

It is yet to be seen if every state governor and lawmaker supports the merger. Official changes of party will have to be agreed with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The INEC spokesman did not respond to calls for comment.

Source: Reuters


Nepal opposition rejects election call, vows to step up protests

Nepal’s main opposition parties vowed on Thursday to intensify street protests against the government, rejecting a plan to hold parliamentary elections in May, a sign of deepening brinkmanship threatening to wreck a fragile peace process.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, a former Maoist rebel leader, announced at a rally of 10,000 people on Wednesday that elections, earlier scheduled for last November, would be held in May to elect a special assembly to draw up a new constitution for the young Himalayan republic.

“It is just a bluff,” Madhav Kumar Nepal, a former prime minister and a senior leader of the opposition Communist UML party, said of the election call.

“It is a caretaker government; there are serious questions about its legitimacy. How can it hold the election?” Nepal told Reuters.

The aid and tourism dependent country has been in political limbo for months.

Differences among politicians over issues including the distribution of power and resources to states under a planned federal system resulted in the dissolution of parliament in May last year. A new assembly is needed to complete a draft constitution.

But opposition parties are calling for Bhattarai’s resignation, saying he had already failed to hold elections once.

They want a national unity government to oversee a vote and have organized protests to ratchet up pressure for the leader to quit. Dozens of people have been injured in the protests and activists recently stoned Bhattarai’s car to stop him from attending a party meeting in the west of the country.

More protests are planned for next week.

“Street protest is a must. Great achievements of the democratic system were received through street protests in the past and it is possible now as well,” UML leader Jhalnath Khanal said, news service reported.

The ruling party says opposition parties are afraid of facing the voters because they fear losing.

Politicians are under pressure from donors to hold the election early and establish accountability in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Analysts say chances of holding elections in the middle of the year are diminishing as the deadlock is delaying redrawing the constituencies and updating the voters’ list. The next window for a vote is November this year or the spring of 2014.

Ordinary people enduring daily power cuts of up to 14 hours, shortages of fuel, unemployment and near-double digit inflation think feuding politicians do not care about their plight.

“They have no concern for us. They are power hungry and selfish,” said Jagat Pokharel, a 25-year-old college student.



Source: Reuters


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


Russia opposition elected online

Voters opposed to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin have chosen a new opposition leadership to fight for election reform.

Popular anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny won the most votes in the three-day online poll.

Some 81,801 voters took part in the internet poll, electoral committee head Leonid Volkov said.

A total of 45 seats on the Coordinating Committee for the anti-Putin foes were contested by more than 200 candidates.

Mr Navalny said the poll would clarify “which people, which methods and which ideology have the most support”.

Announcing the results on satellite and internet TV channel Dozhd, committee organiser Leonid Volkov said the number of votes “didn’t let us set the world record for secured verified internet votes, but still it is a very good and interesting figure”.

Novelist and columnist Dmitry Bykov came second in the vote, ahead of opposition leader and former chess champion Garry Kasparov.

Another key winner was TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak with Ilya Yashin, leader of activist group Solidarity, also doing well.

Among other known opposition leaders selected were the leader of the Left Front movement, Sergei Udaltsov, and a former vice-premier under Boris Yeltsin, Boris Nemtsov.

The electorate is only a tiny fraction of Russia’s voters.

Although the vote was internet-only, the organisers set up a few polling stations in Moscow and elsewhere to enable voters without web-access to take part in the poll.

Voters were allowed to vote for a number of candidates from the field of 209. The 45-member council was to be comprised of 30 from a general list and five each from separate nationalist, liberal and left-wing lists.

The opposition hopes the event will reinvigorate a movement that staged large-scale protests last winter, posing a serious challenge to Mr Putin.

While the Russian authorities are largely ignoring the ballot, attacks on candidates in the pro-Putin media and apparent cyber strikes on the ballot’s website – which could not be accessed at times on Saturday morning – suggested that Kremlin supporters were not indifferent.

Voting was extended into Monday because the website had been hacked.

Organising committee officials said the vote had also been disrupted in the industrial town of Chelyabinsk in the Urals, because of a search by agents from the Federal Security Service (FSB).

The organisers emphasised that a large proportion of the votes cast were outside Moscow. However, interest in the vote outside the capital has been limited by the lack of coverage in state media.

Although tens of thousands of demonstrators took part in opposition demonstrations in several Russian cities last month, the rallies have failed to attract the large numbers seen late last year.

Opposition figures have also come under increasing pressure from the authorities, with Sergei Udaltsov under investigation after a pro-Kremlin TV channel linked him to an alleged plot to incite mass riots.

Source: BBC