The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), have declined to participate in presidential debates to be organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) this month ahead of the December 7 polls.
The two parties have assigned various reasons for their inability to participate in the presidential debates.
The Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Koku Anyidoho, told the Daily Graphic in an interview yesterday, that the party took the decision about five months ago not to participate.
He described the IEA’s failure to consult the leadership of the NDC before going public to announce the party’s participation as gross disrespect to the party and added that that would not be tolerated.
However, Mr Anyidoho said the NDC had earlier explained to the IEA when it contacted the party to participate in its presidential debates that the party was unable to do so because it had already committed itself to participating in a similar debate to be organised by the state broadcaster, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).
“ The IEA pleaded that we consider their request asking that we participate in both the IEA and the GBC debates. I told them the tightness of the time will make it difficult for the party to do so, however I will forward their request to the National Executive Committee (NEC) and get back to them,” he said.
He expressed surprise at the IEA’s decision to advertise the debate with the NDC’s participation although the party was yet to give the institute a response.
Mr Anyidoho said the party was not aware of the November 8 debate “ let alone to prepare for it.”
He explained that President Mahama was ready to debate Nana Akufo-Addo on the platform of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the GBC.
That was because the party would like to strengthen state institutions to full capacity.
Mr Anyidoho said the NDC was of the view that the Executive Director of IEA might have learnt lessons from her mistakes and taken steps to ensure that all stakeholders had been consulted before going public, but she had repeated the same mistakes and ‘‘we consider it as a gross disrespect for the NDC party.’’
“We are ready to debate Nana Addo but that will only be on a credible platform such as the NCCE and GBC.”
Mr Anyidoho reiterated that the party had not been informed about the latest arrangement, adding that it was a confirmation of the ‘disrespect’ the IEA had for the NDC and the President.
With regard to the NPP, the former Youth Organiser of the party and parliamentary candidate for Lawra, Mr Anthony Abayifa Karbo, said the party would maintain its position not to participate in any presidential debate in the late hours of the party’s campaign.
He explained that the campaign schedule of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was very tight, while other party machineries were also busy campaigning in the rural areas.
‘’We foresee a long walk to victory and we are already engaging the electorate on all the critical issues such as education, health, economy and the resolute fight against corruption if elected to serve the country,” he said.
Mr Karbo said President Mahama and his party had declined to participate and had offered all kinds of excuses why the President would not debate on the IEA platform.
He said the NPP, therefore, found it rather unfortunate that the party was being dragged into the last minute arrangement .
Besides, the NPP had been informed about similar debates to be organised by the NCCE and GBC, adding “but for sure we will not be part of any debate organised by any quasi-government institutions because time was not on our side.”
Mr Karbo said already GBC was giving the NDC more time than the NPP and the other opposition parties on its airwaves.
Meanwhile, all attempts to get the IEA to comment on the decisions of the political parties proved futile at the time of going to press.
IEA’s earlier response
In an earlier response to the NDC’s refusal to participate in the 2016 presidential debates five months ago, the Executive Director of the IEA, Mrs Jean Mensa, has said this year’s presidential and vice-presidential debates would go on with or without the National Democratic Congress (NDC’s) participation.
On May 11, 2016 the NDC indicated that it could not participate in the annual presidential debates organised by the IEA for failing to consult the party before planning the 2016 debates.
The party was of the view that it was not proper for the IEA to plan and announce a programme of such importance without first consulting with all stakeholders, particularly, the political parties to ensure that the debates did not conflict with the activities of the various stakeholders.
Source: radioxyzonline.com/ with additional files from graphic