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General News Wed, 3 Dec 2003

Four Political Parties have no functional offices

The Ghana News Agency could not locate the headquarters of four out of the 10 registered political parties after an extensive search.

The parties are: United Ghana Movement (UGM), Democratic People's Party (DPP), National Reform Party (NRP) and the Ghana Democratic Republican Party (GDRP).

When the GNA went to their old offices they had been repainted and there were no signs of any political activity and the people around could not indicate where the offices had been relocated.

The offices of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the People's National Convention (PNC), however, were bubbling with political and administrative activities while the Convention People's Party (CPP) was renovating its premises.

The Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE) had offices but without an administration or supporting staffs.

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Political parties are required to have functional office in accordance with Article 55 and 56 of the 1992 Constitution and the Political Parties Law, Act 574, which provide the main legal framework for the formation and operation of parties in the country.

The Law require all political parties to operate functional national and regional offices as well as be politically active in at least two-thirds of the existing 110 districts.

"Without prejudice to any other penalty prescribed by the Act or any other enactment, where a political party refuses or neglects to comply with the pr ovision or submits a declaration that is false in any material, the Electoral Commission may cancel its registration."

These are constitutional and statutory provisions that the parties are required to make available to the Commission for verification.

Meanwhile Dr Edward Mahama, Leader of the PNC, had described the Inspection tour of the office premises of political parties as "a calculated electoral ambush".

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He told the GNA: "The action of the Commission, though legal, is flawed in the time scope, as the two days notice for a comprehensive inspection could be described as an anachronism."

Dr Mahama noted that the EC committed similar blunder in 2000 when six months to the election it decided to conduct an assessment on the political parties, and failed to publish a report.

He, howe! ver, said, "the party as the government in waiting is prepared to meet the officials. Our house is in order. We have functional offices and active administrative staff operating throughout the country".

The PNC Leader said the outcome of the inspection would favour the call for political party funding, as most of the parties were starved of cash.

He said there was the need for Ghanaians to face the hard-core reality of the financial problem facing the parties, "we are not asking for only campaign funding but political party funding to ensure that parties adhere to the electoral rules and regulations.

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"No political party intends to flout the Constitution and other laws but at times the political environment and financial position of the party force you to ignore the laws."

The EC on Tuesday served notices to all political parties of an impending inspection of National, Regional and Dis! trict office premises of all registered parties.

; The exercise begins on Thursday, December 4, at the National Headquarters with the regional and district premises scheduled for December 8 to December 12.

The directives requested all the political parties to furnish the Commission with their office address, location, and fixed telephone numbers of their premises at the various levels to facilitate the location and inspection of the offices.

The directive also requested all political parties to instruct and designate a Ranking Executive member to be at post to receive and assist officials of the Commission in their work.

These include the disclosure of the type of furniture in use, payment of the salaries of party office personnel, utility bills and other expenditure.

The checklist includes the declaration of office facility, date and mode of acquisition and the number of rooms and office equipment.

Source: GNA