The presidential candidate of the People National Convention (PNC), Mr. Hassan Ayariga appears to have forced the hands of the Institute of Economic Affairs to postpone tonight's second edition of the presidential debate, which was slated for the State House in Accra.
Mr. Ayariga had told the various radio stations in Accra yesterday that he was suffering from malaria and could, therefore, not participate in the debate, after flopping in the previous one held in Tamale, about three weeks ago.
But within a twinkle of an eye, the PNC leader had changed his decision of suffering from malaria to the death and funeral of the late Vice President, Aliu Mahama. He claimed that since the state had declared five days of mourning, it would be a show of disrespect if the IEA should go ahead to organize the debate for the presidential candidates.
Hours after making this conflicting comment on air, the PNC flagbearer used the same platform to announce his decision to rejoin the debate, but the last minute lobby would not convince the Executive Director of the IEA, Mrs. Jean Mensa, who told Joy FM that she would have to consult other members of the presidential committee before deciding the fate of the embattled PNC presidential candidate.
She argued that if it was respect that Hassan Ayariga was talking about, they could still observe a minute silence in memory of departed Aliu Mahama during the debate.
Surprisingly, after making this statement, Mrs. Jean Mensa changed her mind and issued a press statement in the evening, cancelling the debate, based on the argument raised by Ayariga. "Following the declaration of a five day national mourning period by the H.E. the President for the late former Vice President, H.E. Alhaji Aliu Mahama, The IEA wishes to inform the general public that the final IEA Presidential Debate has been rescheduled to Wednesday 21st November 2012," noted the press statement.
"This new date was arrived at in consultation with the leadership of the three parties who have expressed their full commitment to participating in the Debate: The National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Convention People's Party (CPP).
"This new date falls outside the mourning period set by H.E. the President. The IEA wishes to inform the general public that all invitations issued are still valid and calls on its media partners to inform the public of the new date," the statement concluded.