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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is expected to launch the national ‘Planting for Food and Job programme’ at Goaso, capital of the Asunafo Municipality in the Brong-Ahafo Region on April 19.Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, disclosing this, explained that the programme was a new initiative and intervention introduced by the government to promote national food security and job creation.He said under the programme, farmers would be motivated to engage in maize, millet, beans and other crop farming in commercial quantities.The interested farmers y would be provided with free seedlings and other agricultural inputs and agro-chemicals such as fertilizers at reduced prices, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh made this known at the launching of the KVCL/Dizengoff partnership project in Sunyani.He said the government had already engaged about 4,100 agric extension officers who would provide technical advice and other extension services to the farmers to boost production.The partnership is an Agric project being implemented by the Kofi Vinyo and Company Limited (KVCL), an agribusiness company based at Kwatire in the Sunyani West District, and Dizengoff Ghana Limited, dealers in agric inputs and agro-chemicals.Under the partnership, Dizengoff Ghana will bring its products to the door-step of farmers in Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions at reduced prices.Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh said the government had also put in place measures, and that it would not be difficult for the farmers to sell their produce as the government would buy them at their farm gates.The Regional Minister noted that, the government’s proposed one-district-one factory project could not be successful if it failed to give the agric sector the needed attention.He expressed discomfort about the unscrupulous activities of illegal loggers in most of the forest reserves in the region, and urged traditional rulers to support the Regional Security Council to arrest the situation.Source: GNA
Former president John Dramani Mahama has said his decision to contest the 2020 presidential polls is in the hands of God. He also expressed his readiness to support anyone who emerges as the candidate for the party in 202 and called for the same support if he emerges as the candidate. He charged party supporters to also put behind them the defeat and focus on reorganization and restructuring of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). “Whether I will contest or not is in the hands of God. Let’s concentrate on strengthening the party and making it battle ready for whoever we choose to lead us in 2020.“An excellent Jockey can fail if the horse is not healthy…..On my part, I will support whoever leads us into 2020 as much as I will expect if I lead you into 2020”.Mr. Mahama at a National Executive meeting of the party on Wednesday added  “the 2016 election is over, but as a party we live to fight another day,” adding that “God and Ghanaians will vindicate the NDC in 2020”.He tasked party executives and members of parliament present to “go back to their constituencies to help reorganize the party, right from the branches- proper branch reorganization with genuine and free & fair elections”.
A group calling itself CitizenGhana Movement is demanding from Ghana's Electoral Commission the audited accounts and asserts of all registered political parties.This was contained in a statement signed by the movement.The statement said: ''These demands were made pursuant to Article 55(14) of the 1992 Constitution, Section 14 of the Political Parties Act and the constitutional right to information as affirmed in the Bus Branding case.''The statement added: ''We are hopeful that the Electoral Commission shall respect our constitutional right to information and furnish us with the information requested. We shall however not hesitate to proceed to the courts of law to enforce this right should the Electoral Commission fail to grant our request.''Find below the full statementCITIZENGHANA MOVEMENT DEMANDS DETAILS OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE FROM ELECTORAL COMMISSIONOn Thursday the 29th of March, 2017, the CitizenGhana Movement (CGM), a civil society group dedicated to the cause of good governance, social justice and social accountability, wrote to the Electoral Commission to demand copies of the annual audited accounts and assets and revenues of all 24 registered political parties.In the letter, Lolan Ekow Sagoe-Moses, a member of the CitizenGhana Movement and lead applicant in the RIGHT TO INFORMATION CASE (also called the Bus Branding Case), Lolan Sagoe-Moses and 6 Others vrs Honourable Minister of Transport and Attorney General, Suit No HR/0027/2015 demanded:    The statements of assets and liabilities, submitted by all registered political parties on the 4th of November 2016 pursuant to Section 14(1) of the Political Parties Act.    The returns containing the statement of accounts, source of funding, membership dues paid, contributions or donations in cash or kind, properties and their time of acquisition and audited accounts, of all registered political parties, which were filed on the 1st of June 2016, pursuant to Section 21(1) of the Political Parties Act.These demands were made pursuant to Article 55(14) of the 1992 Constitution, Section 14 of the Political Parties Act and the constitutional right to information as affirmed in the Bus Branding case.This letter is the first of a series of actions CGM intends to take this year to push for more transparency in the body politic of Ghana. We at CGM consider this move as critical in the overall fight against corruption.The opaque political party finance system is at the heart of the complex of political patronage and allows some people to be awarded fraudulent contracts as repayments for their campaign contributions.We are hopeful that the Electoral Commission shall respect our constitutional right to information and furnish us with the information requested. We shall however not hesitate to proceed to the courts of law to enforce this right should the Electoral Commission fail to grant our request.We humbly call on all Ghanaians to join us to combat the problem of opaque political party finance and the harmful system of patronage it fuels.—Signed— CitizenGhana Movemen
China has warned that “conflict could break out at any moment” as tension over North Korea increases. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said if war occurred there could be no winner. Mr Wang’s comments come as the US voices increasing concern at North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and deploys a Navy carrier group off the Korean peninsula. China, North Korea’s only backer, fears conflict could cause the regime to collapse and problems on its border. Mr Wang said: “Lately, tensions have risen between on the one hand the United States and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and on the other, the DPRK (North Korea) and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment. “I think that all relevant parties should be highly vigilant with regards to this situation. “We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Mr Wang said. Adding to Chinese unease, President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that the US was not afraid of acting alone on North Korea. “If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.” Mr Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping have been in contact by phone since their summit last weekend in Florida, and Reuters quotes US officials as saying tougher economic sanctions against North Korea are also being considered. China is concerned any conflict could lead to a huge refugee problem on its border with North Korea. But, in a sign of growing frustration with its neighbour, it recently blocked coal imports from the North. There is also intense speculation that North Korea could carry out a sixth nuclear bomb test or another a missile launch on Saturday – the 105th anniversary of the birth of its first leader, Kim Il-sung. In an interview with Associated Press, North Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol accused the Trump administration of “becoming more vicious and more aggressive” in its policy towards the North. – Source: BBC 
The newly sworn-in Mayor of Kumasi has been advised by the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, to work with all stakeholders to give the region a facelift. The Minister made the call after he swore into office Hon. Osei Assibey Antwi as the Mayor of Kumasi. According to the Minister, the collaboration will help the Mayor in achieving his vision for Kumasi. The Minister said : ”work hard to win the support and co-operation of the people you serve, notably; the Traditional Authorities, Members of the Assembly, the Media, Heads of Department and Staff, Civil Society Organizations and other Stakeholders and indeed, the totality of the population in the metropolis.” He further urged the Minister to “seek counsel and support of His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to enable you reach out to all segments of the society in Kumasi and to maintain close relationship with the Manhyia Palace.” Hon. Osei Assibey Antwi pledged his commitment and devotion in  finding a solution with all stakeholders on sanitation issues and congestion in the Metropolis.      
About 14,400 UTZ certified cocoa farmers in two regions – Ashanti and Western, are to benefit from a bonus of GH¢1,147,696.00. The money will be made available by Nyonkopa Cocoa Buying Company Limited, a subsidiary of Barry Callebaut – the world’s leading supplier of high quality chocolate and cocoa products. Mr. Joshy Varkey, Managing Director of the Company, who announced this said a total of 15,039 farmers were registered for the UTZ certification but 639 could not make the mark. The UTZ certification is a cocoa sustainability programme to promote socially and environmentally responsible cocoa production that meets the needs of both producers and market. Mr. Varkey presented a dummy cheque for the amount at a farmers’ durbar held by the licensed cocoa buying company at Sefwi-Bekwai in the Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai District. He indicated that the welfare of the farmer was at the heart of the activities of his company and pledged to continue to assist them to adopt best practices to maintain the quality of the nation’s cocoa beans. Doing this, he said, was the way forward to sustain the premium on Ghana’s cocoa. Mr. Varkey re-echoed their unwavering commitment to the goal of lifting about 500,000 cocoa farmers out of poverty by year 2025. This was being done through training, financing and the supply of improved planting materials to boost crop yield and returns. Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, the Western Regional Minister, called for the produce buying and chocolate companies to push for the payment of fair prices to the farmer on the world market. He said this was in their own interest because that was the way to motivate them to keep their cocoa farms and enable the companies to stay in business. He expressed discomfort with the situation where many farmers had remained poor and said that “ought not to be so, considering the labor and effort they put in to get quality beans for the chocolate companies”. Dr. Afriyie warned that if this did not change some of them could abandon cocoa Nana Mensah Konadu, the District Chief Farmer, who received the cheque, thanked the company for the strong support to cocoa farmers.     Source: GNA
The Coalition of Domestic Election observers (CODEO) has described as arbitrary the filling fee charged by the Electoral Commission (EC) for presidential and parliamentary candidates in the 2016 general polls. This was captured in a communique released by CODEO after the Stakeholder Review Workshop On Ghana’s 2016 Presidential and General Elections organized in Accra. Some political parties including the Progressive People's Party (PPP) challenged the EC in court after it announced the filling fee for the polls. The party had argued that, the fee was arbitrary and outrageous. ‘’Fees set for filing by candidates, obtaining accreditation for domestic election observers and media were arbitrary. For example filing fee of GHC 50,000 for the presidential and GHC 10,000 for the parliamentary candidates in 2016 was too high,’’ the communique said. The participants despite commending the EC raised concerns over what they termed as gaps which the EC could work on to improve future elections. On the issue of the voters register, the communique noted: ‘’Persistent gaps with the credibility of the voter register, particularly the issues relating to establishing the eligibility of registrants, challenges with cleaning the register to remove names of the deceased, and in the conduct of periodic and continuous voter registration exercises. It added: ‘’Mistrust and suspicion still exist between the EC and some political parties. The EC’s lack of transparency and engagement with political parties and candidates on some electoral processes. For example, the debacle over the disqualification of some presidential candidates during the candidate registration process could have been avoided if the EC had adopted a more transparent and engaging approach.’’ On the participation of women, the communique said: ‘’Issues of exclusion still remain in terms of opportunities for women in the political and media space during elections. Female candidates’ access to media was generally limited; however, women did not fully utilize the few media opportunities granted to them to articulate their views and issues.’’ Touching on vote buying and abuse of incumbency it said, ‘’vote buying and selling bedevil Ghanaian elections. ‘’The continuous and uncontrolled abuse of incumbency during elections is of major concern.’’ The communique said, ‘’the media did not give sufficient attention to issues of concern to the development of citizens during the election. It added, ‘’the delays in results collation and releases, in respect of the Presidential elections, nearly marred the incident-free polling process. The rising cost of campaign financing on the part of political parties and funding of elections are of concern and steps must be taken to address them.   Enforcement of electoral rules by the EC and political party accountability remains weak,’’ it stated.
The Coalition of Domestic Election observers (CODEO) has commended the Electoral Commission (EC) for organizing a free, fair, transparent and credible elections in 2016. CODEO in a communique which was jointly signed by Professor Miranda Greenstreet (Co-Chair) Justice VCRAC Crabbe (Co-Chair) said: ‘’ The Electoral Commission (EC) successfully delivered free, fair and peaceful elections, particularly in the management of the polling process on Election Day’’   The communique which was issued by participants at CODEO Stakeholder Review Workshop On Ghana’s 2016 Presidential and General Elections added: ‘’there was improvement in the media’s ability to access information on election issues from the EC, political parties, civil society organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders in a timely manner; media creation of platforms for issue-based campaigning and policy discourse was improved; and collaboration amongst key election stakeholders and the media was also much improved..’’ According to them, ‘’there was improvement in the level of physical accessibility enjoyed by persons with disability (PWDs) in the electoral processes; voter education materials were made in Braille and sign language interpreters were used at main campaign rallies of the two big political parties.’’     The communique further commended the activation of the National Security Task which they stated helped minimize election related violence. It also commended the efforts of the Judiciary and their role in managing electoral related disputes.     ‘’The early activation of the National Election Security Task Force (NESTF) infrastructure and the strategic deployment of police to hotspots helped to mitigate the incidence of violence on Election Day. The proactive intervention of the Judiciary in the management of election related cases played a commendable role in ensuring the success of the 2016 elections.   Close collaboration amongst domestic election observation groups contributed to improved citizen observation of the electoral process.’’
  The Coalition of Domestic Election observers (CODEO), has in a communique called for more commitment towards ensuring that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), works without political influence.    This they noted would ensure that the police deal adequately with vigilantism. CODEO also blamed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as the main parties forming vigilante groups.       Below is the full statement from CODEO: COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY PARTICIPANTS AT THE COALITION OF DOMESTIC ELECTION OBSERVERS’ (CODEO) STAKEHOLDER REVIEW WORKSHOP ON GHANA’S 2016 PRESIDENTIAL AND GENERAL ELECTIONS AT AQUA SAFARI RESORT IN ADA, GREATER ACCRA REGION ON MARCH 27-29, 2017 The Coalition of Domestic Election observers (CODEO), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), held a lessons-learned workshop from March 27 to 29, 2017 at the Aqua Safari Resort in Ada in the Greater Accra Region to assess the conduct of the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. The workshop brought together a diverse group of election stakeholders to a single platform to take stock of the conduct of the 2016 Presidential and General elections and draw valuable lessons for improving the conduct of future elections. Participants deliberated, among others, on the following topics: Pre-election/polling phase events, gaps/omissions; Election/polling day and immediate post-election phase events, such as collation, announcement and declaration of election results, especially for the presidential election; Voter Register; Civic and Voter Education; Media coverage of the elections; Enforcement of electoral regulations; Vote-buying and abuse of incumbency; Election and campaign financing in Ghana; Election security. And shared the following views: The Electoral Commission (EC) successfully delivered free, fair and peaceful elections, particularly in the management of the polling process on Election Day. There was improvement in the media’s ability to access information on election issues from the EC, political parties, civil society organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders in a timely manner; media creation of platforms for issue-based campaigning and policy discourse was improved; and collaboration amongst key election stakeholders and the media was also much improved. There was improvement in the level of physical accessibility enjoyed by persons with disability (PWDs) in the electoral processes; voter education materials were made in Braille and sign language interpreters were used at main campaign rallies of the two big political parties. The early activation of the National Election Security Task Force (NESTF) infrastructure and the strategic deployment of police to hotspots helped to mitigate the incidence of violence on Election Day. The proactive intervention of the Judiciary in the management of election related cases played a commendable role in ensuring the success of the 2016 elections. Close collaboration amongst domestic election observation groups contributed to improved citizen observation of the electoral process. Participants resolved that all the above-mentioned accomplishments and positive lessons learned from Election 2016 must be applied to future elections. However, participants noted the following gaps and/or raised concerns about: Persistent gaps with the credibility of the voter register, particularly the issues relating to establishing the eligibility of registrants, challenges with cleaning the register to remove names of the deceased, and in the conduct of periodic and continuous voter registration exercises. Mistrust and suspicion still exist between the EC and some political parties. The EC’s lack of transparency and engagement with political parties and candidates on some electoral processes. For example, the debacle over the disqualification of some presidential candidates during the candidate registration process could have been avoided if the EC had adopted a more transparent and engaging approach. Fees set for filing by candidates, obtaining accreditation for domestic election observers and media were arbitrary. For example filing fee of GHC 50,000 for the presidential and GHC 10,000 for the parliamentary candidates in 2016 was too high. Issues of exclusion still remain in terms of opportunities for women in the political and media space during elections. Female candidates’ access to media was generally limited; however, women did not fully utilize the few media opportunities granted to them to articulate their views and issues. Vote buying and selling bedevil Ghanaian elections. The two major parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are largely responsible for the creation of political vigilante groups/party militia in Ghana. They pose a mortal danger to Ghana’s electoral politics and democratic development. The continuous and uncontrolled abuse of incumbency during elections is of major concern. The media did not give sufficient attention to issues of concern to the development of citizens during the election. The delays in results collation and releases, in respect of the Presidential elections, nearly marred the incident-free polling process. The rising cost of campaign financing on the part of political parties and funding of elections are of concern and steps must be taken to address them. Enforcement of electoral rules by the EC and political party accountability remains weak. After careful deliberations on the above issues, participants made the following recommendations: Compiling a more Credible and Reliable Register: The EC should maintain the current 2016 register while it continues to clean and audit the register. To this end, the EC should fully implement continuous registration in collaboration with stakeholders, including political parties, the National Identification Authority (NIA), Births and Deaths Registry, district assemblies, CSOs to take appropriate steps to clean the voter register. Political parties must take seriously all phases of voter registration exercise, particularly during the exhibition of the provisional voter register phase. In the short term, the EC must consider an appropriate scientific and internationally acceptable methodology for auditing the current voter register to ascertain particular areas of challenge for redressing. In the medium to long term, the EC working with the NIA, and other state bio-data collecting and storage agencies to develop a more reliable and credible voter register and eventually compile a new register. During this period the Commission must progressively do away with the guarantee system. Constitutional Instrument 91 should be amended to require the certification of the voter register 30 days before Election Day. The District Assemblies should enforce the law that requires all citizens to obtain a birth certificate and death certificate before they are permitted to bury their deceased family members. Enforcing Electoral Laws The Electoral Commission, Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and stakeholders should work together to amend PNDC law 284 to set a six-month period for campaigning during each year of presidential and general elections, as part of efforts to minimize cost, check incumbency abuse and help regulate campaign financing. EC should establish an enforcement unit, which should include a legal advisory support, to enforce laws regarding the conditions for maintaining a registered party and accounting for political party campaign finances. If setting this unit may impose undue financial burden, the EC should consider delegating some of these responsibilities, particularly the auditing of political party expenditures, to the Auditor-General or collaborate with the Auditor-General to fulfill its mandate. To address the challenges of curbing the proliferation of inactive political parties, the Commission should enforce the provisions of Article 55 (7) of the 1992 Constitution requiring registered parties to organise in at least two-thirds of constituencies. The EC should work on standardizing its schedule of fees for nomination and accreditation among others services. In setting fees the Commission, as a public institution, should aim to primarily cover its administrative cost for providing the service. Civic/Voter Education and Promoting Inclusion Civic and voter education must be well coordinated and continuous in between elections. It must not only focus on voting and peace promotion but also cover all other areas of civic and political rights as well as democratic citizenship. Political parties should also incorporate civic and voter education among their supporters and into their programs The media should intensify collaboration with the EC, CSOs and other stakeholders throughout the election phase. Political parties are urged to do more towards effective representation, inclusion and participation of the marginalized particularly women and PWDs. Politically Affiliated Vigilante Groups The existence of political vigilante groups is illegal and the Ghana Police Service should ban and disband these groups immediately as a matter of national security. The leadership of the NPP and the NDC who are largely responsible for the emergence of these groups in the 4th Republic should own up to their responsibilities and work together with the police to disband all politically affiliated vigilante groups. In the medium to long term, there should be a concerted effort amongst key election stakeholders to make the Inspector General of Police independent by insulating him/her from political interference by securing his/her tenure across regimes and ensuring such appointments are transparent and consultative. Election Results Collation, Transmission, Announcement and Declaration The EC should plan towards setting up the National Collation Centre in a more spacious location on Election Day to accommodate many stakeholders. The EC should invest in a more robust and transparent ICT system that will secure the transmission of the results from the polling stations to the Constituency Collation Centres and the National Collation Centre concurrently. This system should be developed to transmit quick and accurate results to aid in the timely release of the results. The manual process of collating results should however be maintained to serve as a backup if the system experiences a breakdown. Political parties should be given a “Read Only” access to the securely transmitted results data. Instead of the EC waiting to get results from all constituencies, it should rather adopt the release of results intermittently as and when they receive it. This will help diffuse anxiety experienced by citizens and also build confidence in the electoral process. Financing Elections and Campaign Financing in Ghana It should be Ghana’s responsibility to totally fund its own elections within its own budget including election security. Election security expenditure should be factored into EC’s overall budget. To sustain financing of elections and other key democratic governance activities, the Nana Akufo-Addo government should fully implement the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Commission on the establishment and operation of a Democracy Fund for Independent Constitutional Bodies. The government and EC should undertake a comparative study of the cost of Ghana’s election in relation to other African countries to improve efficiency and cost management, as the country’s election cost is considered high. The EC must plan to stagger its budget request for the four-year period in between local government and general elections and not wait to implement all activities in the year of conducting Presidential and General elections. To sustain political party campaign financing, the EC, IPAC and other major stakeholders should work towards lowering cost of political party campaign financing, including considering placing a ceiling on campaign expenditure (e.g set limit on amount to be used on elections, best practice exist to guide the ceiling or cut off), enhance support given to parties to complement their cost during election campaigning, such as allocation of airtime to parties, restoring logistical support to political parties (e.g. the provision of vehicles, security). 5 In addressing the rising cost of campaign financing, focus should be placed on transparency and creating a level playing field for all parties. Previous works and studies done in this direction may be revisited. Conclusion CODEO will compile the various presentations and details of the deliberations at the workshop for publication. The recommendations from the workshop, some of which are contained in this communiqué, will also inform advocacy for electoral reforms to help improve the conduct of subsequent elections in the country. On behalf of the CODEO Advisory Board and my Co-Chair, I express my profound gratitude to all participants, all the speakers and resource persons, who attended the workshop. CODEO’s post-election stakeholders review workshop was made possible with the generous support of the American people through USAID. Signed jointly by:   Professor Miranda Greenstreet (Co-Chair) Justice VCRAC Crabbe (Co-Chair) Dated: April 6, 2017    
The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Ishmael Ashitey has hinted that government will soon relocate residents and traders at Old Fadama. The exercise is to decongest the area, which is considered Accra’s biggest slum the Minister has said. The relocation follows the renewed clashes in the area between some Dagombas and Konkombas which left at least 2 people dead. He further revealed that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly has been charged to lead a process to relocate some markets in the area. “We have spoken to AMA to lead this operation; whether it is conducive now for them to go there. So they will do that after the Easter. They will move to the site and see how conducive that will be,” he said. “The market has to be relocated to Adjen Kotoku. That project started long ago under Kufuor, but [there were] delays in sending them there. I learned the place is okay to receive them. It is not as big to accommodate all of them… But I am saying if we can take at least 2 or 3 markets [from here to Adjen Kotoku] let’s do that.’’   “It is the markets that we want to move to that place. And when we move the market to the place, I’m confident that those who are benefiting or who are actually working at the market would like to go close to where the market is.’’  Meanwhile, the Northern regional chairman of the party, Bugri Naabu has kicked against the relocation. He has also charged the police to investigate the matter and bring an end to the tension instead of relocation. “Where should they be relocated to? They are here, in the market, selling their food products to the people of Ghana. They cannot relocate,” he stated firmly during a press briefing at Old Fadama after a visit to the area. “They [the police] should speed up by arresting those people and go into the case to see the true picture of the case. But why relocate? No relocation will be done.’’    
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