Ghanaians deserve nothing less than peace and stability; which must be the ultimate outcome of this year’s election, Mrs Charlotte Osei, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), has said.
She said it would take all stakeholders in the country to achieve this; declaring that “let us not fail our country”.
“Our lives are more precious than the pain of losing elections. No matter how painful, it will never be enough justification for killing ourselves,” Mrs Osei said during a colloquium on Peaceful Elections in Ghana, on the theme “Reducing the Incidence of Violence in Election 2016 and Beyond”.
“We owe our nation and the children of Ghana the duty to ensure peace and stability before, during and after the elections,” she said.
The colloquium was organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), in collaboration with STAR-Ghana and the Multimedia Group.
She said political parties need to be reminded that elections were a contest to govern, a contest of ideas, a contest of preferred solutions; stating that ‘there is no governance during war and the electoral competition is for the opportunity to govern and not to rebuild a nation destroyed by war.’
“We are exactly 90-days away from the highly anticipated 2016 Elections.
“We are all in agreement that this year’s elections will be the fiercest and most closely monitored elections in the history of our nation; flowing from two previous very close presidential elections,” she said.
The Chairperson said everywhere in the world, elections are the most hotly contested activity in a nation’s political life; stating that since the beginning of the 4th Republic, electoral competition had been nothing new to us.
“Indeed one would have expected that Ghanaians may be at the point of suffering from elections fatigue by now. But somehow, the political stakeholders have mastered the unique art of keeping the public interest so high in the electoral process from one election to another. And this year’s is no different,” she said.
“But elections are primarily about each of us exercising our right and privilege to choose our political leaders. And Elections should always be non-violent competitions.”
She said nonetheless, past experiences shows that there is the need need for a robust electoral security system to ensure the security of the election equipment and materials.
Others are to prevent compromise; to guarantee voters the atmosphere to vote freely without any fear or intimidation; to uphold the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable groups in our society; and ensure the safety of lives of candidates, election officials and the electorate and safeguard property and materials used in the elections belonging.
She said security is an integral part of the electoral process and begins way ahead of Election Day.
Mrs Osei said every election is unique in its own right; stating that ‘each is primarily shaped by the political culture, history and socio-economic factors of the particular country.’
“In Ghana, a history of six successful peaceful elections in the past 24 years should not be the basis for complacency, because we seem to have an increasingly volatile political culture,” she said.
“We have two very strong political parties among 25 registered parties who seem to dominate our political landscape.
“We are going into elections where one party believes it must win, and the other believes it cannot lose the elections,” she said.
She said Ghana has an extremely high level of press freedom and media accessibility; and that Reporters Without Borders ranked Ghana at 26th of 180 countries globally in media freedom.
She said political discourse in the media especially in local languages gets very animated with a string of independent media and serial callers who set the political agenda daily on radio and television.
“The media must also support peaceful polls by creating platforms for voter education and not allow intemperate language, hate speech and unsubstantiated allegations on their networks,” she said
“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 added.
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, challenged Ghanaians to shun politicians who used 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 the gains. GNA