The Commonwealth has called on political leaders in Ghana to commit not just to the letter but to the spirit of the peace pact which they signed under the “Accra Declaration”.
Dr Josephine Ojiambo, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, also urged them to agree on appropriate enforcement mechanisms that would further strengthen the “Accra Declaration”.
Speaking during the signing of peace pact “Accra Declaration” by the seven presidential candidates contesting the December 7 polls, Dr Ojiambo said the Commonwealth, the West Africa sub-region, Africa, and the entire world would again look up to Ghana on December 7 and days that follow for a credible transparent electoral verdict.
“The Commonwealth remains confident that this country will continue to uphold our shared democratic values, embedded in Ghana’s own constitution, its laws, and its regional and international commitments,” she said.
The “Accra Declaration” facilitated by the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), under the auspices of the NPC and the National House of Chiefs.
The signing of the “Accra Declaration” was presided over by the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood and witnessed by Rev Prof Asante and the President of the National House of Chiefs Torgbe Afede XIV.
Dr Ojiambo urged political leaders to recognise the constitutional role of the Electoral Commission (EC) and respect its independence.
She said the EC, on its part must continue to engage all stakeholders including political parties, security forces, civil society and media representatives, at all stages and levels of the electoral process.
“This will help build upon the level of confidence already placed in you, and will ensure transparency in the entire process,” she said.
“However, ensuring peaceful elections is not the sole responsibility of the EC and the Political Parties. Civil society plays a vital role in promoting transparency and accountability during elections as the voice of the electorate,” she added.
She said their behavior would also contribute to the tone of the political environment and to the achievement of peaceful elections.
She urged the media and civil society to play their roles meaningfully to offer constructive criticism to the EC, political parties and other stakeholders where necessary.
Dr Ojiambo said: “Ghanaians have made their mark as tolerant and peaceful people. The democratic institutions here today have facilitated peaceful transitions from one administration to another, when elsewhere in Africa we witnessed unfortunate spikes in election-related violence and unconstitutional changes of government.”
“Ghanaians have always resorted to the legal route to settle any grievances after elections. This is commendable. It demonstrates the confidence reposed in your strong institutions, and in you, its leaders. Indeed, it speaks volumes about the rule of law in this country too,” she said.
“It is also a demonstration of political maturity. You have made Africa and the Commonwealth proud by choosing peace over violence.”
She said the conduct of political party leaders during this electoral period is under scrutiny both domestically and internationally; declaring that “It should be beyond reproach”.
“I would be remiss not to express concern about recent clashes between some political parties. These acts of violence should be condemned as they have no place in democratic societies,” she said
“Ghana is enjoying the fruits borne by constitutionality, democracy and the rule of law. The bitter result of not respecting these basic norms should forever remain in the annals of your history,” Dr Ojiambo said. GNA