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Group calls on political parties to make public manifestos

A youth-focused organization has urged various political parties to “as a matter of urgency” make their manifestos available to the public by May 31, 2016.

Youth Bridge Foundation in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Seth Oteng called on civil society organisations and other groups to mount pressure on political parties to make their manifestoes public.

Below is a full statement from the group.

CALL FOR POLITICAL PARTY MANIFESTOES

The Youth Bridge Foundation has noted with grave concern that with less than six months to go for Ghana’s 2016 Elections, no political party has issued their manifesto, or indicated when their manifesto would be released to the public for review and interrogation by the Ghanaian electorate. Indeed, we are uncomfortable about this loud silence over party manifestos, particularly at this crucial time on Ghana’s political calendar.

We at the Youth Bridge Foundation recognize that the manifesto is the authentic policy blueprint of political parties. Party manifestos provide a useful tool for promoting issues-based campaigns and elections and promoting inclusive governance. How can the youth, and indeed the wider Ghanaian electorate, make an informed choice at the polls on November 7, when to date the policy plans of the parties are still not available for interrogation and discussion?

Again, we have noted with interest the readiness of the forerunners of the political parties to engage in debates, and while we commend efforts by some prominent civil society organizations in calling for a debate, we are of the view that debates are by themselves woefully inadequate at informing the electorate on the policy positions of the candidates. In order to make debates more meaningful, and empower the electorate to demand accountability, the debates must be anchored on the manifesto positions of the various candidates. Where debates are held without first putting forward manifestos, the winner is often determined by the sheer eloquence of the candidate, and his or her ability to marshal cheer-leaders.

Action Call

Against this background, the Youth Bridge is calling for:

Political parties to, as a matter of urgency, make their manifestos available to the public by 31st May 2016;

Civil society organizations, youth groups and all stakeholders to rally together and mount concerted pressure on political parties to produce their manifestos by the said date. This would provide the electorate with at least 5 months to scrutinize the policy blueprint of the political parties.

Conclusion

Early release of the manifesto will ensure adequate interrogation of the issues on all media platforms, including discussions in the local languages for maximum public education. This will shift the focus of campaigns from violence to issues. Youth Bridge Foundation maintains that this is in the best interest of the youth in particular and the Ghanaian electorate in general, whose aspirations are hinged on the policy blueprints of the various political parties seeking to govern.

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