SONETCO Institute has followed closely the current brouhaha that has met the decision by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) as regards the format for the "2016 IEA Presidential Debate" to feature only the two "foremost" contenders; John Dramani Mahama (H.E.) of the NDC and William Addo Danquah Akufo Addo (Hon.) of the NPP. This the IEA has rationalized is "what the want" based on findings of a survey they conducted.
We, at SI and indeed all well meaning Ghanaians, appreciate the important civic roles the IEA has continued to play in expanding the frontiers of our democratic dispensation linked up to the national development agenda as a whole.
However, this new proposal looks rushed as it has not gone through the needed exhaustive consultation with key players in the process ie. political parties, and therefore shows gross disrespect to the spirit and letter of our supreme constitution.
The constitution mandates the Electoral Commission to access and determine the fate of persons who put themselves up as candidates for presidential elections via an explicitly defined processes stipulated by the 1992 constitution.
Modalities adopted by the EC in the implementation of this procedure are not and have never been in contravention of the constitution of land, so any other processes to augment that same democratic process must equally follow the provisions of the EC and the constitution.
For the IEA to think of "sidelining" candidates who will be duly cleared by the EC with the blessing of our constitution to contest presidential elections is capricious and whimsical to say the least, and therefore cannot be accepted.
It is only the EC that is emboldened by law to disqualify any person or a flagbearer of a political party from becoming a presidential candidate.
It is therefore an abuse of the rights of "other presidential candidates" including those contesting as independent presidential candidates to be cut out of any process, no matter how well intentioned, to deny them the opportunity to be fairly assessed by the electorates especially one that bears the name "Presidential Debate".
The IEA has come a long way and must be seen to be progressing as far as introduction of "innovations" is concerned which must be done in absolute respect to the very process they have sought to complement and the key stakeholders within the process.
Further, the IEA has no locus to determine the mandate of a constitutional body like the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), therefore their recent attempt to "whip the NCCE in line", is most unwelcome.
We must all as Ghanaians be at liberty to fully participate in our country's democratic process within the tenets of our constitution.
We wish to encourage the IEA to reconsider its stands on the planned presidential debate.
SONETCO Institute as an ideological think tank commends and supports any effort towards the deepening of our democratic process but same efforts must be pushed in strict adherence to the laws of the land.
God Bless SONETCO Institute!
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana!
Source: SONETCO Institute
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