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General News
12 Pick Forms For Presidential Race 10/4/2008

Eight political parties and four independent aspirants have picked nomination forms to contest the forthcoming general election in December.

The parties are the Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD), the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Convention People’s Party (CPP).

Others are the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Vision Party (NVP) and the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP).

The independents are Mr Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, Mr Alex Hamah and Mr Richard Nixon Tetteh. The name of the other independent aspirant was not disclosed. This was made known to the Daily Graphic by Mr Asante Kissi, an official of the Electoral Commission (EC).According to Mr Kissi, the EC would organise a forum to meet all the prospective aspirants today and take them through the process of filling the forms.

Just after they had picked their forms on Wednesday, the flag bearer of the RPD stormed the office of the Daily Graphic with a declaration that “we are now ready for Election 2008”.

Mr Kwabena Adjei, in the company of the party’ General Secretary, Mr Francis Kyei, told the Daily Graphic that they would plunge straight into filling the forms, starting from the Ashanti Region on Thursday, Brong Ahafo and subsequently the three northern regions. He said within a week they would complete the forms to enable them file with the EC on October 16 and 17. “People are doubting our ability to do what we are doing now and this is a testimony that the RPD is a very serious party determined to wrest political power,” he stated. He said the RPD was on course to field 150 parliamentary candidates at constituencies where it would make an impact.

Already, he said, the party had 103 confirmed candidates and some had started picking forms to file their nominations with the EC. He explained that as a young party, they were faced with financial difficulties and expressed the hope that the party would be able to meet the EC filing fee requirement. “Ours is to have a focused mind and concentrate on the work ahead; at the end of the day we will force the elections into a run-off and we shall see from there,” he stated. On the filing fee being charged by the EC, Mr Adjei blamed the NPP and the NDC for charging high fees for those interested in running on their tickets as flag bearers.

“Considering what was charged at their congresses the EC would be right in demanding even much higher fees,” he stated.

He said “you can’t pay those sums of money to become the flag bearer of a political party and refuse to pay same to become the president of a whole nation,” he argued. “If you call yourself a candidate or belong to a serious political organisation, it should be possible to organise and raise GH¢5,000 and GH¢500 as filing fees for presidential and parliamentary elections.” He said the party was, however, against the threshold political parties were expected to attain in order to qualify for refund. He said as it stood the so-called big parties were more likely to get the refund from the EC because they could garner more than 20 per cent of the votes at the poll, while their parliamentary candidates could get twelve and a half per cent of votes cast.

In all this the smaller parties would be weakened the more and that would not help the growth of multiparty democracy, he said.He called for an acceptable working arrangement that would give consideration to all these mitigating factors. Meanwhile, the eight political parties in the country are accusing the EC of extortion, claiming the filing fees as set by the EC are too high. The EC has set filing fees for presidential candidates contesting the 2008 general election at GH¢5,000 and GH¢500 for parliamentary candidates.The figures represent significant increases over the 2004 general election nomination fees of GH¢2,000 and GH¢50, respectively.

In a joint press statement issued in Accra last Thursday, the parties said the filing fees were arbitrary, unrealistic and unfair. They are demanding that the increment should reflect the current level of inflation. They have, therefore, proposed that the fees should be adjusted by the current inflation rate of a rounded figure of 20 per cent. The parties also claimed that because the EC was a state-funded institution, asking the parties to pay the stated fees amounted to extortion.

Moreover, the parties said the EC did not consult them before it decided on the figures. In the statement, the parties demanded a meeting with the EC to resolve the issue. They said the EC should meet with them if it was interested in promoting democracy in the country.

Source: Daily Graphic

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