Politics of Monday, 17 September 2012
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, on Monday said elections must not be seen as battles which must be won by whatever means whether fair or foul.
He said it must be perceived as a contest of ideas, policies and programmes to which the citizenry, who are the arbiters, are given the opportunity to choose the candidate who they think could best address their development and social aspirations.
Dr. Kunbuor said this in an address read for him by Mr. Burton Oduro, the Deputy Attorney-General at the opening ceremony of the Annual General Conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) at Takoradi.
The conference is under the theme “The Role of the Legal Profession in the Electoral Process”.
Dr. Kunbuor said a true and enduring democracy is dependent on broad and active participation by all segments of the population in choosing its leaders in a free, fair and transparent process.
He said voting is a civic duty that every citizen of sound mind is enjoined by the constitution to exercise and this is a right every eligible person must endeavor to exercise.
Dr. Kunbuor said failure to exercise one electoral rights means surrendering ones rights which could result in the election and placement of persons that may be perceived as incapable of fulfilling national aspirations.
He said the credibility of the electoral process is a collective responsibility requiring the active involvement of all classes of people.
“The peasant farmer, the rural dweller, the market woman, the kayaye, the party activists, doctors and lawyers all have a stake in ensuring a successful and credible elections”, Dr. Kunbuor said.
He expressed concern about the use of intemperate and abusive language on the air waves and in the print media.
Dr. Kunbuor said Ghana is seen by many as the beacon of democracy in Africa and so “we must not do things that will destroy the confidence that the world has in us as a country”.
He urged lawyers to use their advocacy skills to educate the population on the potential danger of the use of inflammatory language.
He asked lawyers not to lose sight of the fact that they have a duty to help the courts to administer justice fairly to all manner of persons while pursuing the interests of their clients.
“Lawyers must work actively towards enhancing the judicial process and avoid employing tactics to deliberately delay the efforts of the courts at resolving electoral disputes speedily and expeditiously”, he said.
In an address read for her, Her Lordship Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, the Chief Justice, said the legal profession should be seen to be in the forefront in safeguarding the country’s growing democracy especially when it comes to electioneering.
She said resorting to the courts is a feature of Ghana’s electoral process and the legal profession must play an inter-mediating role in settling electoral disputes and handling electoral petitions with high sense of integrity.
Her Lordship Mrs. Wood said the legal profession should be actively involved in ensuring that justice is not only seen to be done but is actually done in electoral disputes.
She called on lawyers to uphold and defend the rule of law with all their strength and might.
Her Lordship Mrs. Wood reminded lawyers of their oath to bring the administration of justice to the doorstep of every Ghanaian living everywhere.