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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Prisoners Are Not More Ghanaian Than Those In The Diaspora - NPP

Prisoners Are Not More Ghanaian Than Those In The Diaspora - NPP

Central Regional Secretary of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwamena Duncan, is demanding that political parties have access to the prisons to campaign since that is the only way to convince those behind bars to vote for the party of their choice, if indeed President Mills and the Electoral Commission is bent on allowing prisoners to exercise their franchise in the 2012 General Elections.

He is also demanding that Ghanaians living in the diaspora be allowed to cast their vote in next year’s election stressing that prisoners are not more Ghanaian than those living outside the shores of the country.

He recalled that in 2008 when Professor Mills was an opposition leader, he strongly opposed efforts by the then Kufuor led NPP government to enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote, and added that if today President Mills wants prisoners to be accorded their rights to vote as enshrined in the constitution, then Ghanaians living in the diaspora must enjoy the same privilege which is by right.

"What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander...Are the prisoners more Ghanaian than those living in the diaspora? Does the right to vote inure more to prisoners than to other Ghanaians living abroad?” he asked.

Quoting extensively from Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution which considers voting as both a right and a responsibility, Kwamena Duncan said, "Every citizen of Ghana of sound mind has the right to vote and entitled to be registered as a voter for the purpose of public elections and referenda."

To him, the significant contributions of Ghanaian citizens living abroad to the country's economy, cannot be overlooked since their remittances far outstrip the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) or international aid to the country.

Empirical evidence indicates that in 2010, remittances or private unrequited transfers (net) in the year amounted to $2.12 billion, claims the World Bank Ghana Country office. And that amount exceeds the total volume of ODA that the country received in that year.

President Mills on Tuesday gave indications that his administration will ensure prison inmates exercise their franchise in 2012 when he commissioned the Ankaful Maximum Prison in the Central regional capital of Cape Coast.

According to the President, the move is in conformity with a ruling given by the Supreme Court, which stipulated that inmates have the right to vote.

“The Supreme Court in a recent ruling stated that inmates have the right to vote during elections and I want to assure them that our government would abide by the Supreme Court ruling and therefore enable the Electoral Commission to put in place the necessary machinery and structures to enable inmates to exercise their God given rights," President Mills said.

However, the NPP Central Regional General Secretary believes the President’s interest in ensuring that prisoners vote stems only from the political benefits he stands to gain.

Contributing to discussions on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo Morning Show, Kwamena Duncan posited that “it is only a failing government, a President that is groping in the dark that would want prisoners to vote only because that is an easier way to garner votes to stay in power.”

He accused President Mills of now hinging his hopes on the votes of prisoners to retain power because defeat is staring at him in the 2012 elections as a result of the NDC’s failed electoral promises to Ghanaians.

According to him, the only thing that could have informed President Mills’ decision to allow prisoners to vote is that “they are scampering for votes because things are not going well for them”. He said the NDC’s thinking is that they will get their support largely from those in the prison and those who are not from literate background.

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