‘Akufo-Addo is a threat to Ghana’s democracy’

General News of Saturday, 22 February 2020

Source: theheraldghana.com

2020-02-22

President Akufo-Addo

Members on the Minority side of Parliament, have explained why they boycotted President Akufo-Addo’s 4th State of Nation Address, yesterday, saying it was in protest of threats against the country’s democracy under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

According to them, “since becoming President of our republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has conducted the affairs of state with the kind of tyranny, despotism and authoritarianism that frightens many objective observers”, adding “we have in the face of extreme provocation exercised restraint and urged the president to depart from his perilous path that puts the democracy of our country at great risk.”

The Minority Members left Parliament shortly after President kufo-Addo, assumed his seat to tell his countrymen and women the state of affairs.

The boycott got Christoph Retzlaff, the German Ambassador to Ghana to take to social media platform Twitter to seek the views of his followers on the decision of the Minority to boycott the President’s 4th State of the Nation Address, marking the end of his first in office.

With a picture of the scene, the diplomat tweeted, “NDC opposition party leaving Parliament before President‘s State of Nation speech. What’s your opinion on that?”

The Minority which earlier announced they would be boycotting the sitting made their way out, just as the national anthem ended.

But addressing the press in Parliament, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said they took the decision following the lack of action because government has refused to implement recommendations made by the Emile Short Commission on the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, alleged interference in the activities of the Electoral Commission in the compilation of a new voters’ register and the perceived attack of businesses owned by NDC members.

President Akufo-Addo, “has conducted the affairs of state with the kind of tyranny, despotism and authoritarianism that frightens many objective observers”, the Minority said, adding “We have in the face of extreme provocation exercised restraint and urged the president to depart from his perilous path that puts the democracy of our country at great risk.”

“Sadly, matters are totally out of control. The democracy we all toiled and sacrificed to establish is now threatened by the highhandedness of President Akufo-Addo. The man who in opposition styled himself as a champion democrat has turned out to be a nightmare and an existential threat to our fledgling democracy. We continue to witness heightened impunity from officialdom,” Haruna Iddrisu said.

The Minority Leader, defended the boycott insisting that it was to resist “the fascist and authoritarian tendencies” of the Akufo-Addo government.

“As we speak, the President has refused to implement the recommendations of the Emile Short Commission, following the state-sponsored terrorism that occurred during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in January 2019. The President continues to shield his indicted appointees as he even confers on them more authority to perpetrate mayhem ahead of the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections. Contrary to the Emile Short Commission recommendation, President Akufo-Addo has blatantly refused to disband the illegal SWAT team which has been populated by known hoodlums belonging to his vigilante groups.”

About a week ago, the Minority, expressed frustration about the delay of their share of the Common Fund for the third quarter of 2019, stressing that it is delaying the execution of projects in their constituencies.

While threatening to boycott the State of the Nation Address, they mentioned that the delay is a deliberate attempt to deprive them of working effectively and consequently competing fairly with their opponents, especially when the general election is some months away.

Among other things, the minority cited the Electoral Commission’s resolve to compile a new voter’s register, the closure of pro opposition radio stations [Radio Gold, Radio XYZ], removal of Charlotte Osei from office as Electoral Commission chairperson, the failure of the president to implement the recommendations of the Emile Short Commission as the reasons for walking out of the House before the president’s speech.

“…these are not normal times. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Our tradition is credited for laying the foundations for this Fourth Republican dispensation. It is our moral duty to the Constitution we swore to protect and the people we serve in this House to rise and resist oppressor’s rule – in that enduring and rallying call of our national anthem.

“Our walkout was therefore a bold protest against tyranny and to send a very clear message directly to President Akufo-Addo that enough is enough. We shall no longer accept the growing levels of impunity and unconstitutionalism masked by duplicitous and hollow rhetoric.”

“From the outset, we need to make clear that these are not normal times in the democratic trajectory of our country”, it said adding “We are clad in black today to mourn the fascist and authoritarian tendencies that have conspired to threaten the health of Ghana’s democracy”.

“We continue to witness heightened impunity from officialdom.As we speak, the President has refused to implement the recommendations of the Emile Short Commission following the state-sponsored terrorism that occurred during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in January 2019. The President continues to shield his indicted appointees as he even confers on them more authority to perpetrate mayhem ahead of the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections”, the Minority Leader read.

He said “Contrary to the Emile Short Commission recommendation, President Akufo-Addo has blatantly refused to disband the illegal SWAT team which has been populated by known hoodlums belonging to his vigilante groups.Many more of these blood thirsty hoodlums continue to be trained at national security installations and are being armed ahead of the 2020 elections”.

To them, “President Akufo-Addo goes down in history as the only President in the Fourth Republic to supervise the cruel removal of Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Madam Charlotte Osei. That conduct in infamy appears to have paved the way for an elaborate scheme to rig the 2020 elections by compiling a new Voters Register. Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, let the cat out of the bag when he stated emphatically that if the NPP was successful in compiling a new Voters Register, the NDC will never come back to power. One wonders how a register that brought the NDC to power in 2012 and the NPP to power in 2016 can suddenly become so discredited in the eyes of the NPP if not for the sinister agenda exposed inadvertently by the Majority Leader”.

On the EC, the Minority said “the Akufo-Addo-led Government in cahoots with the Jean Mensah-led Electoral Commission remains intransigent despite overwhelming public opposition including from a strong coalition of Civil Society Organisations and Political Parties. We cannot help but agree with the US State Department Human Rights report which has raised concerns of possible voter suppression in opposition strongholds as the real intention for the needless and wasteful new Voters Register”.

According to the NDC MPs, “Under President Akufo-Addo’s watch, media freedoms and free expression have come under unprecedented attack. The Government has still not found the killers of investigative journalist, Ahmed Hussain-Suale who was assassinated in cold blood. Despite demands from the international community for action, he refuses to speak to the matter and no updates on investigations have been provided. Many journalists continue to be attacked, with others having to seek refuge outside the jurisdiction”.

“His Government continues to close down Radio stations particularly those with affiliation to his political opponents. Only last week, his administration after the Gestapo closures of Radio Gold and Radio XYZ, and many others, closed down Radio Tongu and Fox FM, Takoradi in the most bizarre of circumstances”, it said.

The Minority charged “the growing culture of impunity and the tyranny that has reached alarming proportions was once again on the prowl when agents of National Security demolished businesses belonging to Ghanaians in the private sector located at the Ghana Trade Fair Site at dawn under the cover of darkness. Not even notice was served on the owners to take out their valuables ahead of the barbaric demolition. We are not in any doubt that the cruel nature of the demolishing which has been justified by the President’s appointees and spokespersons was targeted at former award winning journalist, Raymond Archer who many in this administration have not forgiven for his incisive and explosive investigative pieces of yesteryears”.

It reiterated “…these are not normal times. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Our tradition is credited for laying the foundations for this Fourth Republican dispensation. It is our moral duty to the Constitution we swore to protect and the people we serve in this House to rise and resist oppressor’s rule – in that enduring and rallying call of our national anthem”.

Adding “our walkout was therefore a bold protest against tyranny and to send a very clear message directly to President Akufo-Addo that, enough is enough. We shall no longer accept the growing levels of impunity and unconstitutionalism masked by duplicitous and hollow rhetoric”.

They concluded by saying “Ghana belongs to all of us and so shall we all stand to defend the democracy we have all laboured for. Like Thomas Jefferson, we declare: “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

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