For this year’s general election, the Electoral Commission (EC) has designated 81 of the nation’s 275 constituencies as flash points or places where there is the potential for election-related violence.
Mrs Charlotte Osei, the Chairperson of the EC, said this situation requires a concerted effort by all political actors, state institutions, media and of course, the Commission to work towards a more civilized political culture for peaceful elections.
She said in the limited voter registration exercise conducted earlier this year, there were over two dozen incidents of violence resulting in injuries, and the destruction of registration equipment and materials belonging to the EC.
“Again last month, an office of the Commission was set on fire in a suspected arson matter, following a dispute between political parties during the continuous voter registration exercise,” Mrs Osei said in Accra during a during a colloquium on Peaceful Elections in Ghana.
The event was held on the theme: “Reducing the Incidence of Violence in Election 2016 and Beyond”.
The colloquium was organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), in collaboration with STAR-Ghana and the Multimedia Group.
“If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin pricks that precede cannon shots”, she cited Napoleon Bonaparte.
Mrs Osei said: “Clearly, we have a high number of pin pricks. We cannot allow them to grow into cannon shots.”
“All around us, we have seen the devastating consequences on nations when political leaders place their personal ambitions and sectional interests above national interests.
“We, therefore, call on the leaders of our political parties to engage their supporters, especially their youth wings, and lead the process for ensuring a peaceful electoral process.”
She said political party leaders should also take responsibility for the actions of their supporters and condemn bad behaviour where they occur.
“As a state institution responsible for conducting free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections, we are working very hard at achieving that,” the EC Chairperson said.
“So far this year, we have collaborated closely with the security agencies to institute measures aimed at guaranteeing the security of the polls,” she said.
These include the formation of Election Security Task Force by the Ghana Police Service at the National, Regional and District Levels.
She said the EC would also be providing the list of polling stations and the Flash Points areas to the security services ahead of time.
She said in the creation of additional polling stations, minimizing conflict and enhancing accessibility were the key criteria.
Mrs Osei said early voting modalities have been discussed and the process commenced with the security services to ensure that they would be available for duty on Election Day.
She said the EC together with the security forces were putting a lot of effort into ensuring peaceful polls, but they cannot do it alone and that it is the responsibility of everyone Ghanaian to ensure a peaceful election.
“We call on leaders of faith based organisations, chiefs and queen mothers, professional associations, civil society to support us as we work to ensure a peaceful electoral process,” she said.
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor, in a statement read on his behalf, urged the EC must work with political parties to boost their confidence and trust in the outcome of the general election.
Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, the Chairman of the National Peace Council, urged Ghanaians to shun politicians who use abusive language on their campaign platforms.
Air Vice-Marshal Griffiths Evans, the Commandant of the KAIPTC, said despite Ghana’s huge democratic credentials since 1992, there was the need to preserve and consolidate its gains. GNA