Speaker of Parliament Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, on Thursday June 13, launched the 30th Anniversary Democracy Cup at Parliament House in Accra. 

Last year, Parliament instituted the Democracy Cup as part of activities commemorating 30 years of uninterrupted parliamentary democracy in Ghana, on the theme: “30 Years of Parliamentary Democracy Under the 4th Republic: The Journey Thus Far.” 

The launch was attended by the leadership of Parliament, Members of Parliament (MPs), officials of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku, the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), former skipper Stephen Appiah and players of the senior national football team, the Black Stars. 

The Democracy Cup series is intended to bring sports enthusiasts from various parts of the country together, to not only participate in the sporting activities but more importantly, for Parliament to use football as a vehicle for engaging with citizens and encouraging wider participation in the legislative process.  

Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko will vie for the maiden edition of the competition on Friday, July 5, 2024, at the Accra Sports Stadium.  

The winner of the match between the two premier league sides will play against the United States-based club, DC United in Washington, DC, later in the year.  

"Two years ago, we began a journey into our past as an institution, to reflect on where we have come from, where we are now and where we intend to go," the Speaker said. 

He added: "For over 30 years, the Parliament of Ghana has been recognised as the fulcrum of our democracy, providing the platform for diverse political interests to actively participate in the governance and affairs of the nation."   

He noted that Parliament had, since its inception, committed to particularly ensuring that the government remained open and accountable to the citizenry.   

This, he said, had significantly projected the image of Ghana as a country that respected the rule of law and promotes the principles of participatory democracy which constituted the hallmarks of good governance. 

The Speaker reiterated that this enviable position was not achieved on a silver platter; and that the journey to democratic excellence had not been without challenges.  

"We have certainly gone through tortuous and hard times, but the lessons gathered from difficulties we have faced as representatives of the people, and ultimately as a nation in our efforts at building a resilient democracy, has taught us that with the sense of patriotism and commitment to our constitutional obligations, we can achieve greater feats as a nation, within the framework of parliamentary democracy," Speaker Bagbin said.   

He said he was proud to have been part of this process of building Ghana's Parliament from 1993, which had, no doubt, contributed significantly to enabling him to assume the onerous responsibility as Speaker of the first-ever hung Parliament in Ghana.  

"Today we have become a model for many within and outside the sub-region to emulate. Indeed, there is a lot to be grateful to God Almighty for," he stated. 

He said the launch of the Democracy Cup was further evidence of Parliament’s commitment to promoting initiatives aimed at strengthening the foundation of Ghana's democracy.  

He said the Democracy Cup was another perfect avenue for bridging the gap between Parliament and the people of Ghana who were duly represented by their MPs. 

Speaker Bagbin said the Democracy Cup, which involves a football match between two glamorous teams in Ghana – Fabulous Kumasi Asante Kotoko and ‘Never Say Die’ Accra Hearts of Oak- was very significant, particularly within the context of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in December.    

“The match will no doubt, re-ignite the competitive rivalry between Kotoko and Hearts, but at the end of the day, only one team would win..., in the spirit of sportsmanship, losing teams, in football matches organised on the principles of fairness and sportsmanship accept defeat and try their luck next time. 

The Speaker said they could extend this analogy to elections, which, like football matches, were always characterised by competition and intense rivalry, but at the end of the day, only one candidate or political party would emerge as the winner.  

"It is therefore imperative that in the spirit of patriotism and unity, other candidates or parties that do not win accept the outcome of the elections and support whichever party is elected for the development of the nation," Speaker Bagbin said. 

"I, therefore, urge the Electoral Commission, the centre referee for the upcoming elections, to conduct the exercise in a free, fair, transparent, peaceful and credible manner." 

He thanked the two teams, Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak for accepting Parliament’s invitation to vie for the Democracy Cup. 

He said the sports event should be an opportunity to re-emphasise the importance of sports in promoting healthy living and fostering friendships and unity.    

"After all, we need healthy bodies and healthy minds to contribute in diverse ways to the development of our democracy," he said. 

Mr Mustapha Ussif, the Minister of Youth and Sports, in a speech read on his behalf, said in the past there were a lot of deficits in sporting infrastructure in the country, and with the support of Parliament and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, a lot of sporting infrastructure were being developed in the country. 

He cited the recent Borteyman Sports Complex, where Ghana hosted 54 African countries in all sporting activities, including football, volleyball and armed wrestling during the All African Games. 

He said some of the regional youth resource centres were also being completed. 

He urged Parliament to continue to approve the budgetary allocations and funds for the Ministry, so that it could continue with the good works it was doing for sports development. 

Mr Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku, the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), who declared the GFA's support for the worthy initiative, also commended Speaker Bagbin for the good initiative. 

He noted that in Africa, no Football Association could thrive well without having good working relations with the government. 

"In our country, it is very important for us as a football family to always work closely with the government, politics has a role to play in sports, football has a role to play in governance; so when we have a unique opportunity of bringing the two sides together on a common platform, one has to say halleluiah," Mrr Simeon-Okraku said. 

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