Accra, Feb. 8, GNA – The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA),a Think Tank, on Tuesday launched its pre-election debate series for political parties as an integral part of its efforts to entrench democracy in Ghana.
The IEA, as part of its commitment to strengthening the pillars of Ghana’s democracy, ensuring free, fair, peaceful and transparent election process, has planned its 2012 Pre –Election Debate Series for political parties with representation in Parliament.
Dr Michael Ofori Mensah,Fellow of the Think Tank, who launched the programme said, the debate series is designed to increase accountability, introduce an issue-based approach to election campaign, promote dialogue between Presidential Candidates on their policies and to enable electorates make an informed choice.
According to him, democracy is truly exercised when the electorates are knowledgeable and well informed about options, thus, “the IEA for the fourth consecutive time will host its Pre-General Election Debate Series to make a contribution to good governance in the country.”
He said the 2012 Election Debate Series comprises of three Presidential Debates, four evening encounters with presidential aspirants, and one Vice Presidential Debate.
Dr Mensah added that since 2000, the IEA has organised Presidential Election Debates which provided Presidential Candidates a platform to present their vision to the nation and discuss with each other policies and programmes that are believed would best serve the national interest.
“The debate will enable candidates to point out the weakness in the policies of their co-contestants and present alternatives to those policies and programmes.”
He said this would ensure an issue-driven approach to the presidential campaign, and will also enable electorates to make an informed choice when electing the President as well as provide the opportunity to demand accountability from the candidate.
“Overall, we expect the debate to be vigorous and uncompromising but decent in tone.”
Dr Mensah said one Vice Presidential debate will be organised and will objectively follow the same procedure outlined for the Presidential debates.
He added that the Vice Presidential debate is important because the vice is the second personality of the country, the office holder who is “a heartbeat away from the presidency” and “as our Constitution mandates, steps into the shoes of the President when the latter is unable to perform the functions of that office, he or she therefore has to demonstrate the qualities of a president.”
Dr Mensah noted that Ghana is at a critical stage as it faces several developmental challenges but at the same time has been blessed with a windfall oil revenues but “how well this is managed will determined our ability to effectively tackle issues that confront us and this will be influenced by the quality of leadership in this country.”
He said the debate on policies, issue and programmes of candidates with detailed analysis of their ability to deliver on promises, competence and credibility will set the tone for the next election.
“With your collaboration, “the media” debate series will serve the purpose for which they have been initiated, we count on you as long term partners in this process, together with electorates, civil society, aspirants and political parties, and we can work towards deepening democracy in our dear nation.”
Dr Mensah said, “The IEA is of the view that those who seek to lead must first subject themselves to the scrutiny of the people who are the ultimate repository of political power.”
He called on presidential candidates to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the debate series and emphasised that the success of the 2012 election will marked 20 years of uninterrupted constitutional rule in Ghana.
“This will be another milestone in entrenching democracy in our country, which is an achievement we all aspire to make it a reality by helping the electorate make an informed choice and as the hold aspirants to account.
Dr Mensah said dates, time and venues will be communicated to the various aspirants and the general public shortly, “I urged Ghanaians to keep themselves updated through the IEA website, www.ieagh.org where an election 2012 section will soon posted.”
He said the IEA will soon constitute the Presidential Debate Committee (PDC) to review the ground rule that will govern the debate and to solicit questions from Ghanaians.