General News of Tuesday, 27 November 2012
ADDRESS BY H.E. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS AT HIGH LEVEL MEETING WITH THE 2012 CANDIDATES
TAKING A STAND AGAINST ELECTORAL VIOLENCE, IMPUNITY AND INJUSTICE
GREAT HALL, KNUST, KUMASI – NOVEMBER 27, 2012
His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama, Honourable Presidential candidates, Her Lordship Chief Justice Georgina Wood, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the Inspector-General of Police, Nananom, Niimei, Honourable Members of the National Peace Council, representatives of Civil Society andPolitical Parties, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is significant that we have created an invaluable forum today to further seek commitment and consensus on ensuring a peaceful election devoid of violence, impunity and injustice.
Ghana has been blessed with peaceful political transitions since we embraced the Fourth Republican Constitution in April 1992. However many of the electoralprocesses that have led to these transitions have been characterised by uncomfortable levels of tension and indeed several instances of violence and threats of violence. As a people we have to be thankful to God that none of these haveignited into full-blown conflict.
We often pride ourselves as peaceful, but the nature of partisan politics and the tensions that come with fierce political competition, mean we should not take our peace for granted.
Ghanaians are alarmed by the exchange of extremely vitriolic and baselessly abusive language on our airwaves – our politics is now characterised by how loud and abusive one can be, rather than the application of moderate, toned-down logic and common sense in debating the issues. We cannot sustain this and guarantee our peace. Such recklessness is a catalyst for conflict.
I am in no way suggesting that people should be meek and mild. People have a right to be responsibly vigilant during the electoral process.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: All the political parties have played a part in this unpleasant state of affairs and it is a relief the presidential candidates are all gathered here today to express their commitment to peace.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have just returned from upcountry, interacting with traditional leaders and offering my support in their quest for a peaceful election. Thetensions in some parts of the country are real and should not be ignored.
Our political leadership have a huge responsibility beyond this forum to give proper counsel to their supporters across the country to desist from reckless impunity if we are to give true meaning to what is happening here today. (What is the value of electoral victory if it is achieved on violence?)
Peace cannot be guaranteed until we back our words with responsibility and tolerance.
The media also have to recognise they have a huge role to play in ensuring that the true value of today’s declaration is achieved through the application of strict ethics during political discourse.
The security agencies have a responsibility to be professional, impartial and forthright in the execution of their duties and the judiciary has to resolve electoral disputes with swiftness and fairness, to give the electoral process credibility.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: Ghana has come too far in its political evolution. Let us not allow the next few days to destroy these political gains. We cannot fail our people.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Otumfuo Osei Tutu and the National Peace Council for offering a platform for such an important forum.
Gratitude should also go to the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) led by Dr. Akwetey, for successfully putting this meeting together.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: Thank you.