Shun The Acrimony And Vitriolic Attacks - Vice Prez Mahama

The Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, has urged political leaders and all Ghanaians to shun the acrimony and vitriolic attacks that have characterised the country’s political discourse and open a new chapter of civility in political discussions. He said the current situation where politicians engaged in open hostility against one another, to the extent that those with extreme views attacked moderates from the same political party, would tarnish Ghana’s enviable democratic credentials. “If we want to continue to have our accolade as a democratic country, we must open a new chapter of civility in our political discussions,” he advised. Mr Mahama made the call Tuesday at the commemoration of the Presidential Transition Act at a ceremony attended by the Majority and Minority leaders of Parliament, leaders of political parties and members of the Diplomatic Corps in Accra. The Presidential Transition Bill, initiated by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in 2007 and supported by the four political parties with representatives in Parliament — the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC) — was passed by Parliament in March 2012. It has since received Presidential accent. The promulgation of the act became necessary following the difficulties that characterised the transfer of power from the NDC to the NPP in 2001 and again from the NPP to the NDC in 2009. The act, therefore, seeks to ensure smooth transfer of power from an incumbent President to an incoming President after elections. It has provisions such as Accountability, which has to do with the registration of the assets of Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Ministers of State; Institutional Clarity, which deals with taking inventory of state assets; the Structured Time Frame, which specifies the period within which a transition team is to be formed and the time for the swearing in of a Speaker, Members of Parliament and the President. Mr Mahama said as the country was going into an election, it was crucial for politicians to work towards calming the political temperature. He, therefore, appealed to all Ghanaians to put the past behind them and incorporate the spirit of consensus in their deliberations. The Vice-President expressed worry that politics in the nation was characterised by vitriolic attacks, a lot of partisanship and abuse. As a result, he said, increasingly the moderates tended to shut up and leave those with extreme views to do the talking. On the act, he said it represented the commitment of the political players to deepen the country’s democratic process, as it would ensure the smooth and harmonious transfer of power, adding, “It will provide Ghana with a democratic legacy.” “The new legislation shows how Ghana’s leaders can rise above political consideration and work for the good of the nation,” he said. Mr Mahama said the government was committed to establishing the framework and other processes for the implementation of the act. He, therefore, asked leaders of the political parties to “forge ahead” with a common purpose to give the act the maximum support. A local government expert, Prof Kwamena Ahwoi, who wrote the first paper on the Presidential Transition Act, said the act was the outcome of the experiences of the confusion that characterised the 2001 and 2009 transitions and indicated that it “is home-grown and based on our living experiences”. The 2008 Communications Director of the NPP and member of the team that drafted the bill, Dr Arthur Kennedy, stressed the need for Ghanaians to accommodate the criticism of moderates and urged them to go into the election with open hearts. A former Chief of Staff in the NDC I government and member of the Presidential Transition Bill team, Nana Ato Dadzie, said the act was “a major step in the consolidation of the democratic order in the country”. The General Secretary of the CPP and member of the bill drafting team, Mr Ivor Greenstreet, said the consensus that characterised the drafting and passage of the bill indicated that the future was bright for Ghana as far as democracy was concerned. The Chairman of the PNC and member of the team, Alhaji Ahmad Ramadan, recalled that the 2001 and 2009 transitions had been chaotic and expressed the hope that the act would keep Ghanaians on track to do things right from now. The President of the IEA, Dr Charles Mensah, said the act represented the hard work of people across the political divide, adding that it was a good legacy that they were living behind.