General News of Saturday, 1 December 2012
Ghana’s security agencies warned of destabilizing elements ahead of polls
The West African Network for Peace Building, Ghana (WANEP-Ghana) on Friday urged Ghana’s security agencies to closely watch over the country’s porous borders to ensure ex- combatants, mercenaries and rebels will not enter to destabilize it ahead of the next month’s elections.
It warned that the influx of ex-combatants from neighboring Cote d’Ivoire and the proliferation of arms, the likelihood of politically motivated youth violence and dormant chieftaincy conflicts all had the possibility of plunging the country into instability.
In its peace and security update on Ghana’s elections released here Friday, the WANEP asked the Ghana Police Service to conduct periodic dawn swoops to retrieve illegally acquired small arms and light weapons in the possession of civilians. “The security agencies should ensure that adequate, appropriate and impartial security measures are provided before, during and after the elections to all Ghanaians,” the network said in its report.
“This should especially be provided to areas of the country where inflammatory and ethnic sentiments as well as chieftaincy disputes have the potential to re-ignite, with elections acting as the trigger,” it said.
Ghana will hold general elections on Dec. 7 to elect president and 275 parliamentarians. The West African nation is seen as one of the rare cases of stable and functioning multi-party democracies in Africa. However, recent electoral experiences in Africa have served as a constant reminder that nothing should be taken for granted. Through WANEP-Ghana’s National Early Warning System from 2011 to date, a number of human security threats have been identified. The report said if the various stakeholders continually work collaboratively and conscientiously, “we hope to see a scenario whereby the country will experience violence-free campaigning before the voting day and the elections will be held with limited reported cases of violence and electoral malpractice.” It said it was the collective and shared responsibility of all stakeholders — local and regional, governmental and non- governmental, sub-regional and international — to work towards the promotion of peace in Ghana, before, during and after the 2012 elections.
The National Early Warning System (NEWS) concept of WANEP sought to provide a platform for a broad-based participatory approach to conflict prevention and mitigation in West Africa.
The report came barely three days after seven presidential candidates contesting this year’s elections signed a peace declaration in Kumasi, about 270 km northwest of the capital Accra The declaration is to ensure the candidates commit to a peaceful election process by calling their supporters to order when the need arises.