General News Wed, 12 Mar 2008

No regrets for repealing Criminal Libel Law - Akufo-Addo

From Samuel Dowuona, GNA Special Correspondent, London

London, March 12, GNA - Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Flag bearer for Election 2008, says he has no regrets in repealing the Criminal Libel Law during his tenure as the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

Nana Akufo-Addo said it was in the spirit of protecting the democratic values of Prof. K.A. Busia and Dr J. B. Danquah, both stalwarts of Ghanaian politics, that he (Nana Addo) championed the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law to allow free press and free expression.

"I have been criticized for repealing the Criminal Libel Law and encouraging irresponsible press, but I believe that irresponsible press can never be an excuse for undermining freedom of the press and of expression," he said at the premiering of a documentary on Prof. Busia at the House of Commons in London on Monday.

Nana Akufo-Addo said he, like Prof. Busia, preferred the rule of law to the rule of men and was committed to refining and growing freedom of speech and of the press in the midst of the challenges it posed instead of stifling it under the guise of preventing irresponsible press.

Nana Addo said he believed that at this stage of Ghana's development, consolidation of democracy, modernization of the economy and a practical focus on African unity, were critical to bringing Ghana to the state of a successful country in Africa.

"Ghana is ready to become a successful African country and I am committed to ensuring that we built on the foundation laid to bring Ghana to the state and by extension galvanize the integration of Africa in line with the vision of our fathers."

Nana Akufo-Addo assured Ghanaians of a leadership that would impact positively on the living standards of the masses, saying that his focus would be on leadership of influence instead of charismatic leadership. He said history had shown that leadership of influence was preferred to charismatic leadership.

Nana Akufo-Addo said most African leaders rode on the back of their charisma and failed their peoples but in the West, where not too many leaders could be described as charismatic, there was ample evidence of positive impact of leadership.

Madam Diane Abbott, the first black woman member of the British Parliament, described Prof. Busia as a torchbearer of democracy in Africa and expressed the hope that his political offspring would continue to hold that torch high.

She noted that for black politicians in the West to be strong, they needed to ensure that their colleagues in Africa were strong, saying she would therefore support African Parliamentarians to strengthen democracy in their own countries.

Contemporaries of Prof. Busia, including Justice Owusu Ansah, Ambassador to India under Prof. Busia's government and Mr Mike Anawoma, then Private Secretary to Prof. Busia, and Mr Annan Arkyin Cato, Ghana's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, attended the event.

Source: GNA