By Zakari Musah
Ghana’s general elections, slated for December this year, are very crucial to the people of Ghana as well as the international community. Already, some opinion leaders have started commenting on the elections, thus indicating that all eyes are on Ghana.
Therefore there is the need for the Electoral Commission, an independent body mandated by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana in Article 45 (c) to conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda in the country to ensure that the elections are free, fair and peaceful so the out come of the results will be accepted to all parties irrespective of who and which party emerge as the winner.
Ghana remains one of the most peaceful countries in Africa on the score sheet. This year’s elections will be the fifth consecutive elections in the Fourth Republic since 1993 when Ghana returned to constitutional rule. One may ask how this one will be. Well, the onus lies on all Ghanaians.
It is very important not to lose sight of the five Pillars of the National Orientation, Proud to be Ghanaian, Patriotism and Spirit of Ghana First, Positive and a “Can-Do-it” Attitude, Productivity and Accountability and Dedication and Discipline. These should serve as the guiding principles that no matter the situation, the Ghana first Pillar ought to be held in high esteem.
According to the President of the United States of America, George Bush, Ghana is showing Africa that democracy is not a challenge to be feared but a sure path to prosperity and peace. “Ghana and America stand as one in our work to promote free elections. Ghana is now in the middle of a lively elections season, marked by spirited debate close fought contests which sounds kind of familiar.” “Whatever the outcome, Ghana is showing Africa that democracy is not a challenge to be feared but a sure path to prosperity and peace. Ghana is a model of entrepreneurship, democracy and peace on the continent of Africa.”
These comments were made during President Agyekum Kufuor’s recent visit to the US. Undoubtedly, Ghana, one of the peaceful countries in Africa, is in the spot light as to how the elections will be organized.
These attest to the fact that proper measures ought to be put in place to fore-stall any anomaly that can be detrimental and lead to the derailment of the peace Ghanaians are enjoying.
Thankfully, the Electoral Commission has successfully endorsed seven political parties and an independent candidate to contest for the December 7 Presidential polls. These are New Patriotic Party (npp), National Democratic Congress (NDC), Convention People’s Party (CPP) and Peoples National Convention (PNC). Others are Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD.
Now that the green light has been given to the presidential aspirants to officially campaign to canvas for votes, the duty then lies on the Flag Bearers to educate their supporters and followers to be disciplined and avoid the use of vulgar words which can mar the beauty of the elections.
The underlying causes of election disputes ought to be identified and properly addressed. This is because it has the tendency of derailing democracy in Africa rather than consolidating it. The responsible bodies ought to ensure that proper measures are put in place to curb election violence which is becoming a menace in Africa and should draw a demarcation between a winner and a loser.
Undoubtedly, in consolidating and expanding democratic rule and strengthening peaceful elections in Africa, the following cannot be overlooked. Transparency in the electoral process, the commitment of the incumbent government in ensuring that transparency, the capacity and commitment of all political parties to respect the rules and accept the outcome of the results as well as the commitment of all political parties not to escalate pre-electoral crisis.
Elections often bring controversy and can contain seeds of conflicts. In other words, conflict is inevitable in elections. However, achieving positive results rest on how the government, the courts, the electoral commission, political parties, the party supporters, the police as well as the media manages election-related conflicts.
Corruption and abuse of power are the canker on the continent of Africa and cannot be ruled out as reasons why some governments refuse to relinquish power when they lose elections because they fear prosecution.
It is noteworthy that as part of efforts to ensure peaceful upcoming elections, the Director-General of Police Operations, Mr Patrick Timbillah, has called on the personnel of the Security Services to remain neutral at all times.
According to him, neutrality, firmness, fairness, resoluteness and consistency of the personnel, coupled with a high sense of professionalism will win them public confidence and disabuse the minds of people of any suspicion of bias.
The media, the fourth realm of state, have also been brought to the limelight by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Wood at the 13th Annual Ghana Journalists Association Awards and Dinner Night in Accra. She said one of the pre-conditions for credible elections in December is for Journalists in the country to live up to their role as neutral referees.
Indeed, the observation by the Chief Justice is in the right direction because there is the perception that the media often contribute to election disputes in some parts of the world as a result of bias reportage.
The devastating nature of elections in neighbouring countries such as Angola, Liberia, Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone among others should be a lesson to Ghanaians to manage this year’s elections to expectation so that Ghana does not become a centre of controversy.
The Zimbabwean electoral crisis a couple of months ago, has left the country in a serious political turmoil despite an agreement reached for power sharing between the ruling ZANU-PF headed by Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change headed by Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Zimbabwe election dispute has led to the loss of several lives and properties, with some people displaced. It has the world’s highest inflation record of over 11, 000,000 per cent. The question is does Ghana want to be in this situation? Certainly not.
It will be recalled that early this year, during President Kufuor’s last People’s Assembly in Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region, he assured Ghanaians that he is prepared to handover power irrespective of who emerges as winner by legitimate means in the December polls.
This is a very good assurance from the President. All the presidential aspirants and their supporters ought to bear in mind that it is only through legitimate means that one can become President in this democratic era and must therefore respect the verdict of the electorates, since they are the deciders of who becomes the President of the Republic of Ghana.
This is the time to prove to the whole world that indeed, Ghana is the gate way to Africa, by ensuring that the upcoming elections are free, fair, peaceful and democratically accepted without any issue of power sharing.