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20 June 2016

Reject Mahama’s Presidential Dictatorship – NPP-USA

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A clear danger is presently looming in Ghana, and its name is John Dramani Mahama. He has an innocent demeanor, a deceptive behavior, wanton insensitivity to the plight of our fellow countrymen, and a highly dangerous ambition to rule Ghana by dictatorial terror. The seeming freedom of speech and of association that currently exist in Ghana are slowly being chipped away by his willful abuse of incumbency to criminalize all behaviors and activities that run counter to his ultimate goal of imposing himself on Ghanaians as their leader, even if illegitimate.

The worst part of this development is the deafening silence of civil society that appears to be overly consumed by its desire to maintain respectability. Little do leaders of civil society know that while speaking up today may unleash a barrage of insults on them, their continued silence could eventually lead to a time when speaking up would result in imprisonment, or even death. We have seen it before with Kwame Nkrumah, Kutu Acheampong, and Jerry John Rawlings. And there are signals that we are well on our way back to that culture of silence.

It may be recalled that the NDC regime under Jerry John Rawlings enacted a criminal libel law that was used to intimidate opponents and discourage free speech. The Kufuor administration, with Nana Akufo-Addo as Attorney General, repealed that law and opened our society up again for freedom of speech. Today any exercise of free speech that runs counter to the Mahama administration’s interest is characterized as “causing fear and panic.” So badly is this being used to stifle free speech that simply videotaping a fleet of NDC campaign vehicles has landed someone in the cells of the Bureau of National Investigations. Numerous examples of free speech landing citizens in jail in today’s Ghana should be a concern to all well-meaning Ghanaians.

As if this was not terrifying enough, now the Mahama administration has sent to Parliament the “Interception of Postal Packages and Telecommunication Messages Bill,” to be passed into law. The government and its advocates insist that the bill would enable the government to spy on criminals only. But given this administration’s shameful abuse of incumbency, one must be naïve to believe that political opponents and independent media practitioners would not be victims of this law when passed.

Of course the police would not be denied the

ir participation in the assault on free speech. Recently the Inspector General of Police suggested that he would consider shutting down social media during the elections. When faced with backlash, his reaction was even more cognitively primitive. “No one can stop me from shutting down social media,” said the IGP.

The attack on free speech and the use of the BNI to terrorize opponents and independent minds within the Ghanaian media and civil society are merely vehicles being used to impose Mahama’s continued incompetent leadership on our great country. Beginning now, and through the elections in November, our collective continued silence runs the risk of facilitating a rigged election for Mahama to continue his illegitimate leadership of Ghana. And when that happens, Ghana as we know it would never be the same again.

Those who may deem this call as alarmist need only to remember how Paul Biya of Cameroun and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda both slowly turned their respective countries into presidential dictatorships. It should not escape any of us that John Dramani Mahama has for a long time idolized these two men well before he became president of Ghana. It should further not escape any of us that, like Rawlings who felt comfortable in the company of dictators like Libya’s Gadhafi and Cuba’s Castro, Mahama has a close friendship with Iran’s leaders and Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos, all of who lead dictatorial regimes.

Ghana has sailed through seven elections in our fourth republic. What is so different about this election that warrants curtailing of individual freedoms? Did criminals or the threat of terrorism just wake up in 2016? Why now? Telecommunication ease and the prevalence of social media in today’s world make it difficult to oppress citizens. However, once those are placed under the control of government, and disagreeable activities and behavior are criminalized, the culture of silence creeps in and a crooked leader is well on his way to becoming a dictator.

The past seven years under the leadership of Mahama and the NDC have witnessed an alarming regression in gains made in the economy, the rule of law, and common decency. Our economy is incompetently managed, rule of law has broken down with indiscipline prevalent throughout our society, corruption is at alarming levels, our country is saddled with crushing debt, and Ghana is at its worst state since independence. All this despite Ghana having at her disposal the most resources since independence. A vote for Mahama in this year’s election not only sends Ghana deeper into the abyss, but it also consolidates the power of a president who harbors dangerous dictatorial ambitions.

Public Relations Committee
NPP-USA

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