Politics Wed, 12 Mar 2008

Akufo-Addo pledges commitment to free and transparent elections

From: Samuel Dowuona, GNA Special Correspondent

London, March 12, GNA- Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, flag bearer of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), has declared his commitment to the democratic integrity of the forthcoming December polls.

"I am ready to travel further down the road of democratic integrity to ensure that the December polls are held in a free and transparent manner to secure the credibility of the results thereof.

"It is my firm belief that the only way to prevent our country from plunging into chaos is to entrench and deepen the aspects of democracy that ensure the existence of credible and strong alternatives to governments for the people to choose from," he said. He urged flag bearers of other political parties to desist from the defeatist outcries about attempts to rig the forthcoming December polls and be rest assured that the Electoral Commission would be provided with adequate resources to ensure the integrity and credibility of the results.

Nana Akufo-Addo made the declaration at the Premiere of a documentary on the life of Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia, one of Ghana's foremost statesmen and political stalwarts of the United Party/Progress Party tradition, from which the NPP was born.

The two-hour long documentary, co-written, produced and directed by Akosua Busia and Dr. Abena Busia, both daughters of Prof. Busia, was captioned "THE PROF - A man remembered."

The documentary that was sponsored by the Busia Foundation, show cased captured the life of Prof. Busia as a statesman and father of the nation from the time he entered politics in 1941 till his death on August 20, 1978.

It featured prominent persons like President John Agyekum Kufuor, Nana Akufo-Addo, Stevie Wonder, Bishop Dag Heward-Mills and some contemporaries of Prof. Busia.

Akosua Busia said the documentary was "a clinical presentation of the life of daddy in commemoration of his 95th birthday, which falls in July 2008. It was also to mark the 30th anniversary of his demise." The documentary was premiered at the Portcullis House in the British House of Commons, under the auspices of Diane Abbott, first British black female Member of Parliament.

It would be shown on Ghana Television from July this year when the 95th birthday of Prof. Busia is celebrated.

Nana Akufo-Addo noted that Ghana's democracy as it was now reflected the vision of Prof. Busia other than that of his rivals, who believed in one party state as against multi-party democracy. "Our democracy as it is now is the best tribute to Prof. Busia and his predecessor J. B. Danquah, and we of the present generation are determined to protect and guard it in honour of those two great sons of country," he said.

Nana Akufo-Addo noted that when Prof. Busia had the privilege to lead Ghana he decided to replace the one party state and tyrannical situation he inherited with multi-party democracy and rule of law. "Prof. Busia proved that being in power did not mean one must remain in power forever and that the masses deserved to have alternatives to choose from with respect to who governed them," he said Nana Akufo-Addo noted that under Prof. Busia there was no record of political detainee, adding this was evidence of Dr. Busia's commitment to freedom of speech and of expression.

"I am ready to protect that kind of legacy any day to ensure that our people continue to enjoy the freedoms won for them by our predecessors," he said.

Nana Akufo-Addo said it was in the spirit of protecting the democratic values of Prof. Busia and J. B. Danquah 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.

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 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