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GBC Presidential Encounters begin Tonight

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Beginning Thursday, November 12, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) is providing all aspiring Presidential Candidates the platform to engage them one-on-one to answer questions from the electorate.

The goal is to provide the public a virtual access to the candidates, where they may ask questions and seek clarification on issues of national interest.

Tonight at 7 p.m., the Only Independent Candidate, Alfred Walker takes his turn in an encounter that will go live on all GBC’s platforms across Ghana.

The Presidential Encounter is a collaboration between the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), STAR-Ghana Foundation with funding from UKAid and EU.

In this report, Rebecca Ekpe takes a look at the importance of Presidential Encounters to strengthening the pillars of Ghana’s democracy.

Ghana has since the year 2000 witnessed the conduct of Presidential Encounters ahead of the general election.

Over time, these encounters seem to play a critical role in the country’s electoral process. However, some Candidates have looked forward to these debates while others have shunned them for various reasons.

Regardless of how a student gets prepared for an examination, no one is actually interested in writing the examination. This is how some Political Science pundits view Presidential Encounters.

Nicholas Ayensu-Appiah, Grants and Due Diligence Manager with the STAR Ghana Foundation said Presidential Encounters are very important to deepening the country’s democracy.

“In fact, it is increasingly seen all around the globe as one of the benchmarks of a healthy democracy. For the Presidential aspirants, I think it provides them the opportunity to articulate to we the citizenry their political opinions and public policy proposals and to us the electorate, it is an opportunity for us to evaluate and assess those propositions that have been proffered on issues of national concern and then for us to make informed choices,” he intimated.

Researchers believe Presidential Encounters to some extent impact the longevity of a democracy and are very essential in helping citizens to make informed choices.

During these encounters, voters are provided with the opportunity to listen to the candidates and gauge what their priorities could be if they assume office. In some surveys conducted, three out of five respondents said the debates are “very or somewhat helpful” in deciding which candidate to vote for. However, that does not necessarily mean large numbers of voters are waiting for the debates to make up their minds.

Critics of Presidential Encounters say over time these debates have degenerated into media spectacles, showcasing much of what seems to be the flaws in electoral politics and journalism, and therefore offer less substance and more perhaps propaganda.

By: Rebecca Ekpe.

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