The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) strongly protests against the Institute of Economic Affairs’ exclusion of the PPP and the other 3 Presidential candidates from its 2012 Presidential Debates. It is greatly disturbing that the IEA continues to discriminate against the PPP and other political parties by insisting on the use of “political parties with representation in Parliament” as the criteria for selection of parties for its programmes. This criteria is highly prejudicial and needs to be discussed urgently with the entities that fund the IEA. Furthermore, such distinction contradicts our 1992 Constitution.

In its jingle to promote the presidential debate, the IEA confirms that the essence of the debate is to afford those who wish to govern, an opportunity to explain their policies and programmes to the electorate for the later to make informed decisions in the 2012 elections. The questions then are these:

“Did the Electoral Commission pronounce 8 Presidential aspirants as legitimate Presidential Candidates for the 2012 elections?” Will the electorate be given the opportunity to listen to the PPP and the other 3 Presidential candidates in this debate, since they too want to govern”?

We recognize the role of the IEA to promote and strengthen democracy in Ghana but we wish to remind the IEA that Ghana is a multi-party democratic State and that it must be guided by this principle in the selection of parties for its formal and informal engagements. This country is led by a President whose election is not based on how many seats he or she has in Parliament. Indeed, the President does not need to have even one seat in Parliament to be elected. This feature of the Constitution safeguards the people from tyranny of the majority.

The IEA cannot ignore this fundamental constitutional imperative and yet claim to promote Ghana’s Constitutional democracy.
The undue focus of the IEA on selected political parties has a tendency to derail the efforts of this country to sustain a multi-party democracy and give Ghanaians a broader spectrum of ideologies and approaches to governance to choose from. Interesting enough, some of these “IEA-select” parties have on many occasions boycotted the IEA platforms when they (the parties), were given the opportunity.

This has decimated the excitement and interest that this otherwise important presidential encounter and debate would have generated. More importantly, it has denied the people of Ghana the opportunity to assess ALL the 8 presidential candidates and their parties’ policies and to make informed choices in the December 2012 elections.

The Progressive People’s Party is a serious political party working to win the mandate of the people of Ghana, and so, as required by the Constitution, the PPP is fully represented in every Region of the country with active membership in every district. Those who want to provide a platform for serious political discourse, must look beyond representation in Parliament and abide by the Constitution and the pronouncements of the EC to determine which political parties should participate. Any other method of selection is counter-productive to what the IEA claims it stands for, and for which reason it derives its funding. The IEA should remain fair, transparent and relevant in order to deserve its claims and funding.

We urge the IEA as a credible civil society organization to review its selection criteria in consonance with the 1992 Constitution, the Political Parties’ Law and the changes in our political landscape to ensure equity and fairness.

Kofi Asamoah-Siaw
National Secretary
Progressive People’s Party