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General News Sun, 30 Aug 1998

Scrap provisions that subvert ethics of democracy - Adjetey

Legon, Aug 29, - Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, out-going National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), today called for the scrapping of provisions in the 1992 constitution that are subversive to basic ethics of democracy. Addressing delegates at the Party's Sixth National Congress at the University of Ghana, Legon, Mr Adjetey singled out Sections 34 and 35 of the Transitional Provisions, saying they do great violence to fundamental human rights and freedoms, justice and fair-play.

He said it is "monstrous to think that a constitution will contain provisions which nakedly seek to prevent courts of justice from doing justice and providing relief to persons who have suffered without just cause not for a period but forever. "These provisions run counter to the well known principle of constitutional law in parliamentary democracies that no parliament can bind its successors," he stressed. The NPP Chairman pointed out that the constitution also makes too much room for central government interference in and control of local government, saying up to 30 per cent of members of the district assemblies are appointed by the president. Mr Adjetey said though district chief executives are nominated by the President with the approval of assembly members, "the power to nominate such a person, in the first instance by the president, is a powerful tool for the control of local government by the president.

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Mr Adjetey said it is "naive and myopic" for the constitution to exclude political parties from local government, adding: "political parties are as much important for ensuring the operation of democracy at the local level as at the national level". He said the procedure for appointing members of the Electoral Commission deprives it of credibility and raises suspicion that it is not independent of the President, adding that the Council of State "is far from independent of the President".

Mr Adjetey said if the party's parliamentarians who make up a third of the total members of parliament could offer constructive suggestions to turn the country round, then the NPP could do a lot more. He, therefore, called on the party members to put their house in order. Mr Joseph Agyenim-Boateng, General-Secretary, said despite lessons learnt from the two election defeats, members must have faith in the party and its ability as well as strength to win. "We must proudly proclaim that our party has the right policies and programmes and persons experienced and competent to carry them out."

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