The Executive Director for the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), Jean Mensa, has denied claims the civil society group is discriminating against small political parties with the novelty to its presidential debate ahead of the November 7 polls.
The IEA has announced that its presidential debate this time round will be restricted to just President John Mahama and the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, while separate debates will be held for presidential candidates of parties which have no representation in parliament and for the various running mates.
Some of the political parties have, in reaction, accused the institute of deliberately discriminating against them.
The leader of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, had also accused the IEA of trying to undermine democracy with its upcoming presidential debate.
“We have been told that the IEA has announced a series of debates for the 2016 elections and those debates they claim are aimed at strengthening our democracy. Well I think not. I don’t agree with what the IEA intends to do. In this country, we have a political parties’ law. It is the political parties’ law that determines which political parties are in good standing. It is the one that also gives authorisation to the Electoral Commission to determine who is a legitimate presidential or parliamentary candidate and, so, if the IEA wants to do something to strengthen our democracy, it should rather work with the Electoral Commission, help it to truly determine what parties are legitimate and which candidate should be certified to contest the presidential election in 2016,” he argued.
But the IEA’s Executive Director, Jean Mensa, has defended the new directive, saying: “We have been magnanimous.
“Some think we are being discriminatory at them. In the first place, we are working with parties with representation in parliament and you will find that we will have a party that will have more than a hundred seats being on the same platform with parties that have one seat. I think that we’ve been magnanimous,” she said.
According to Jean Mensa, that has been the criterion in the past and “I don’t think that is discriminatory at all”.
“The criterion we have chosen is very important, otherwise you will end up with the situation where, when you have a hundred registered parties, you will have all of them on the debate,” she explained.