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General News Mon, 20 Jan 2003

NPP Rigged 2000 Polls - NDC

THE OPPOSITION National Democratic Congress (NDC) has dismissed views held in certain circles that it cannot win the 2004 presidential and parliamentary elections. Short of saying the New Patriotic Party (NPP) rigged the 2000 elections the general secretary of the NDC, Dr. Nii Josiah-Aryeh, has intimated that, “one of the key elements in the party’s preparations is how to ensure the sanctity of the electoral process in 2004.

Speaking at a press conference held at the party’s headquarters in Accra, last Thursday, Dr. Aryeh claimed, “prior to the 2000 elections, the NDC, then in charge of government, drew the attention of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to certain anomalies that threatened to undermine the integrity of the electoral process”.

According to the NDC General Secretary, “in the Kumasi Metropolis, for instance, a large number of names on the voters’ register, were traced to pupils in primary and Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) in the metropolis”.

“In addition, several entries on the voters’ register in the same metropolis bore only single first names such as Afua, Kwasi, Kofi, Mansa, etc”.

“The anomalies remained uncorrected as at the time of voting on December 7, 2000”, claimed the NDC chief scribe.

Dr. Josiah Aryeh indicated that as the NDC begins its preparations for the 2004 general elections, vigilance would be the party’s watch-word.

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The NDC general secretary emphasised that the identified electoral malpractices associated with the NPP, including the registration of under-aged school pupils in the party’s strongholds, will be carefully monitored and fiercely resisted.

It expressed the hope that Ghana’s development partners will show a keen interest in ensuring the sanctity of the electoral process in order to avert any confusion and confrontation in December 2004.

According to Dr. Aryeh who has been nicknamed the ‘Loose Canon’ in media circles, it is ironic that in the face of the available evidence, President J.A. Kufuor should be the one to make allegations of vote-buying against the NDC as he did at the NPP congress in Takoradi recently.

The party has, therefore, thrown a challenge to the President to substantiate that allegation because coming from him as the President of the Republic, it cannot be treated as any ordinary platform talk.

Ghanaians, according to Dr. Aryeh, through FM phone-in programmes, newspaper articles, commentaries and TV and radio discussion programmes, have given their verdict on the bellicose, belligerent and war-like speech delivered by President Kufuor at the NPP rally held in Takoradi on Sunday, January 5, 2003.

“Suffice it to say that it was a very unfortunate speech, especially coming after the NDC’s solidarity message to the congress that was as usual conciliatory and full of humility”.

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“The people of Ghana can now judge for themselves who are sincere in their call for national reconciliation”.

He went on: “For the past two years, the NDC has been urging the NPP Administration to demonstrate a positive change in attitude toward the opposition to help reduce the political tension in the country to no avail”.

Dr. Aryeh emphasised, “we have also been urging the NPP Government to put equal emphasis on the spirit of the Constitution as opposed to the one-sided emphasis on the letter of the Constitution which provides the cover to harass, bully, terrorise, intimidate and incarcerate political opponents all in the hallowed name of the rule of law”.

According to the NDC chief scribe, since January 7, 2001, when the NPP came into power, the party has unleashed a reign of terror on NDC members, supporters and sympathisers across the country.

“Several of these cases have been well documented. The bullying of political opponents continues to take place despite all our protestations”, he remonstrated.

He added that the much-touted rule of law of the Kufuor Government has become the smokescreen hiding the real oppressive nature of the NPP Administration, laying the foundation for a new Reconciliation Commission, should the NPP find itself out of office.

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He contended that it is clear to the party that the NPP is bent on disintegrating the NDC as a party, an objective contained in one of the party’s pre-election propaganda broadsheets.

Short of proscriptive legislation, everything being done by the NPP today, is reminiscent of what its favourite military regime, the National Liberation Council (NLC), whose virtues were extolled by the NPP chairman, Mr. Harona Esseku, at their recent congress in Takoradi, and its predecessor Government, the Progress Party (PP), did to disintegrate the CPP as a party, including making it a criminal offence to possess a photograph of that party’s Founder and Leader and First President of the Republic of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

The press conference was attended by former Vice-President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, (NDC’s flagbearer for the 2004 elections), and other party officials.

However, the NDC party chairman, Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah, was unable to attend. No reasons were assigned for his absence.

In a pre-written statement, read by Dr. Aryeh, the NDC responded to recent media reports suggesting, “that a split in the party was imminent”, by saying these are “either figments of some people’s imaginations or are simply grossly exaggerated”. He (Dr. Aryeh) said that since the congress ended in December of last year the party’s Council of Elders and the National executive Committee have “devoted much time and effort to fostering internal reconciliation”, within the NDC and that both Professor Mills and Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, “have taken initiatives aimed at promoting party unity”. He continues, “the harder they (opponents and critics of NDC) try to destabilise the NDC, the more determined and united we become”.

Prof. Mills who also spoke at the function, hit-back at critics who doubt NDC’s claims that the party can win the elections in 2004 saying, “the NDC are more resilient than people give us credit for, and that, thanks to the efforts of the rank-and-file of the party, both he and the NDC can bring success in 2004”.

In readiness for the forth-coming elections, the party says it will ‘outdoor its programme of activity for 2003 under the leadership of Prof. Mills in the next few weeks.

Moving on to the state of the economy, with particular reference to the proposed petroleum price increases, Dr. Aryeh reiterated the NDC’s position which Hon. Kofi Asante (NDC Minority Spokesman on Energy) made clear last week. Dr. Aryeh said, “any increase in petroleum prices at this time will worsen the plight of the average Ghanaian worker. “He said that this, along with rises in the rate of VAT and water and electricity tariffs, increasing, combined with the wage freeze and abolition of extra duty allowances in a ‘recipe for economic unrest and social chaos’.

When asked if the NDC would support CPP’s call for the people to demonstrate against the price increases in petroleum, a spokesman for NDC said that whilst the NDC respected people’s right to protest, if the masses disagree with government policy, the NDC doesn’t wish to get pulled into the demonstration.

The NDC did make it clear that it does not wish to repeat the ‘mistakes’ the NPP made in 1999 when it organised demonstrations calling for petroleum prices not to be increased.

The NDC statement continued to criticise the Kufuor Administration, saying it is both ‘unfortunate’ and ‘an act of gross dishonesty’ for the NPP Government to ‘hang the entire debt of the TOR (Tema Oil Refinery) around the neck of the NDC. Whilst conceding that ?1.6 trillion of the TOR debt could be legitimately attributed to the NDC Government, Dr. Aryeh pointed out that despite assurances from the Minister of Finance that initiatives such as increasing petroleum prices would be put in place to allow the government to repay the TOR debt, the debt has risen to ?3.4 trillion. “A rise that cannot be blamed on the NDC”, he said.

Source: Daily Guide