Founder and Leader of the All People’s Congress (APC) Hassan Ayariga has served notice of leading all other political parties to boycott programmes of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) if the civil society organisaion goes ahead with its intention to organize an exclusive debate for presidential candidates of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
According Mr Ayariga, who was part of the two series held prior to the 2012 elections, such a move will be an affront to the country’s democracy.
The IEA in outlining its programme line-up ahead of the 2016 elections announced that a special debate between frontrunners John Dramani Mahama and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will be held, aside the usual ones for the presidential candidates whose parties have representation in parliament.
But speaking on Accra-based Neat FM on Wednesday, May 11, Mr Ayariga said organizing a debate for the candidates of the two major political parties sends signals likely to influence the decision of electorates.
He argued that since all candidates have equal chance of winning the elections, they should be allowed to speak to electorates. He also called on the IEA not to allow candidates to bring foreign materials like booklets and tablets to the venue during the debate.
The 2012 Presidential Candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC) said political parties remain key stakeholders of IEA. Therefore, any move to sideline them is at its own risk.
He said he would ask political parties to make IEA redundant if it goes ahead with its NDC-NPP debate.
The IEA has scheduled the first of two presidential debates for September with the second to be held a few weeks before the elections, in October.
It will, however, hold series for all presidential candidates at evening encounters across the country, starting June, 2016.