Former President John Dramani Mahama wants the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration to show more commitment towards promoting free speech and ensuring the protection of journalists.
“We believe that the ability of citizens to express themselves freely is a right and not a privilege. This administration must learn to tolerate criticisms and enhance free speech while protecting journalists from harm,” Mr. Mahama said in a statement to mark the birth of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The former President expressed concerns about suppression of the press, which he said had resulted in “the media being cowed into silence.”
He believes “an intimidated citizenry do not constitute the appropriate resource for sustainable progress and national development.”
Ghana recently dropped 30 places to 60th globally and 10th in Africa on the World Press Freedom Index.
It was the country’s lowest-ever ranking in almost two decades, after it ranked 66th and 67th in 2005 and 2002, respectively.
The report, by Reporters Without Borders, said, although the country is considered a regional leader in democratic stability, journalists have experienced growing pressures in recent years.
The former President also implored the governing NPP to turn its focus on strengthening democracy in Ghana.
“The NDC also believes democracy goes beyond enriching family and friends, because it involves using the nation’s resources responsibly to address the felt needs of all Ghanaians.”
“Democracy, transparency and accountability are bed fellows, and therefore, while creating opportunities for all, leaders are also required to wage a strong battle against corruption,” Mahama added.