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Opinions of Monday, 12 December 2016

Columnist: Annan, James

Election 2016: Ghana is the winner!

The December 7, 2016, general elections have ended successfully and the good people of Ghana have accepted the outcome of the polls. It is worth mentioning that Ghana has maintained its enviable reputation as the beacon of democracy in Africa and beyond.

The 2016 polls is the seventh presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana, since the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution. The just ended elections cannot be said to be flawless. But I daresay that the overall voting process was very peaceful and transparent.

The keen contest between President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), demonstrates a true reflection of multiparty democracy.

Barely two hours before the election results were declared, President Mahama took a bold decision by congratulating the President-elect, Nana Akufo-Addo. In fact, His Excellency did the honourable thing, as the final presidential candidate to concede defeat. That is the beauty of democracy!

This doesn’t happen in other African countries. In Gambia for example, President Yahaya Jammeh is reported to have rejected the outcome of the recent elections which he lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow.

After conceding defeat following his 22-year reign, the Gambian President annulled the results of the general election and called for another election.
As a country, we have made headway in our democratic dispensation. And we cannot afford to gamble with the future of our motherland, Ghana. Since we have chosen the path of multiparty democracy, let’s forge ahead in unity.

Of course, only one of the seven presidential candidates can be elected to steer the affairs of the country for the next four years. The people of Ghana have expressed their will through the ballot, so it behooves every citizen to respect that decision.

The ‘Accra Declaration’

As part of the pre-election activities, the seven aspirants of the various political parties contesting the 2016 Presidential Election signed a peace declaration in Accra to pledge their commitment to a peaceful election.

The ‘Accra Declaration’ was an initiative of the National Peace Council (NPC) and the National House of Chiefs (NHC) with support from international organizations, including the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) aimed at promoting peace in the 2016 Election.

The declaration sent positive signals to the rest of the world that Ghana was keen on sustaining its credentials as a bastion of peace and democracy on the African continent.

After pledging his vow to peace, President John Mahama described himself as a
peace-loving politician whose commitment to peace was unquestionable. And of course, the President has demonstrated to the world that he isa man of peace, as we await a smooth transition on January 7, 2017.

It is gratifying that the ‘Accra Declaration’ which attracted some dignitaries such as the President of Liberia and the Chair of ECOWAS, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; and former South African President and leader of the AU Observer Mission, Mr. Thabo Mbeki; was not an exercise in futility.

Report of election observer missions

The report of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and other observer missions including the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) lauded the people of Ghana for the largely peaceful conduct of the elections.

The leader of the AU delegation spoke highly of Ghana’s 2016 Election and its processes. The AU observers also praised the professional conduct of the Electoral Commission (EC) in ensuring transparency, accountability and credibility of the electoral procedures.

Furthermore, the observer missions commended the country’s vibrant press, particularly the role of private media and the state-owned broadcaster in promoting transparent and peaceful elections.

Admittedly, the success story of Ghana’s outstanding democracy is incomplete without commending the tireless effort and sacrifice of the media.

Finally, the preliminary report of the foreign observer mission praised the cooperation of Ghanaians, including the electorate, party agents, candidates, the security agencies and civic activists.

Bravo, Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission (EC) deserves commendation for conducting one of the most credible elections, since the last 24 years of our democratic journey in the history of Ghana.

Initially, most Ghanaians doubted the capacity of the EC in organizing a successful election because of the few challenges that characterized the early (special) voting exercise.

Since the last two decades of Ghana’s democracy, opposition parties have constantly doubted the integrity of the EC. For some strange reason, there has always been the fear that the EC will favour the ruling governments.

In spite of the mounting pressure on the EC to announce the election results, the Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, stood her grounds as a leader. “The duty we owe Ghanaians is not to declare results quickly, but to declare results accurately”, she emphasized.

So far, so good, Ghana has been able to stand the test of time after another successful general election. The victory of the 2016 Election is not the reserve of the NPP, but for the entire country.

According to a former US President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1965), ‘the ballot is stronger than the bullet’, so let’s uphold our commitment to multiparty democracy in high esteem.

Meanwhile, let’s appreciate the stewardship of President John Dramani Mahama for contributing his quota towards the development Ghana in diverse ways and, especially, the peace that the country is enjoying.

As we usher in another government under the presidency of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I implore fellow compatriots to stand in unity and accord the new administration the needed support to build a more prosperous nation.

ASP James Annan

Cantonments, Accra

jamesannan2006@gmail.com