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Diasporian News of Monday, 3 June 2013

Source: Joe Kingsley Eyiah and Jonathan Annobil

“Ghana is an oasis of peace.." -Rev Asante

“Ghana is an oasis of peace in the West African sub-region”-Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante

The Chairman of the National Peace Council (NPC) of Ghana, The Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel K. Asante who is also the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in Ghana has described Ghana as an ‘oasis of peace’ in Africa.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Ghana Today and Hope for the Future’, at a community meeting with Ghanaians in Toronto on May 11, 2013, Prof. Emmanuel K. Asante` traced the background of Ghana’s past experience of non-participatory forms of governance that operated upon paternalistic principles that were hardly representative of, nor accountable to the people, to our present system of governance based on principles of liberal democracy! To the latter system of governance, he said, “since 1992, Ghana has enjoyed peaceful democratic governance. “We have successfully changed or retained government through peaceful elections. Where a section of Ghanaians have felt cheated, they have resorted to the courts to seek redress. A case in point is the 2012 elections.” He then cautioned Ghanaians both at home and abroad to be wary of unnecessary comments of insinuations and insults by writers/politicians on both sides of the political divide on the election petition case at the Supreme Court that seek to undermine peace in Ghana. The Chairman of the National Peace Council used the occasion to advise all Ghanaians to be patient with the process at the Supreme Court and, explained that what had happened in Kenya’s election petition case could not be compared to that of Ghana. The two countries, though all in Africa, operate with different national constitutions.
Prof. Emmanuel Asante used the theory of ‘tangible and intangible democratic principles’ of governance as observed by one Prof. Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, to underscore the indispensable role that religion (and for that matter the CHURCH) as well as culture can play in the promotion of good governance, which is the condition for the possibility of peace and development. The tangible democratic principles, according to Prof. Mensah-Bonsu, “are clearly spelt out in the Nation’s Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.” On the other hand, the “intangible forms emanate from practice and societal attitudes and even though they are less clear, they are principles that encompass responsive and responsible direction of the affairs of the state and thereby ensure the proper ordering of society.” Arguing for the role of culture and religion in the promotion of peace through good governance, the speaker further used Prof. Mensah-Bonsu’s observation that the intangible principles which are better described as ‘values’ comprising respect for diversity, respect for law and authority, tolerance for difference (cultural & political/association as well as opinions) though cannot be practically legislated by any authority, they underpin, in practical terms, the observance of the tangibles that have been prescribed in the Constitution and other legislations. Thus, the intangibles are meaningful practical means to achieving the tangibles! When practiced well the intangibles are ways to arresting the situations of inequalities in management of national resources, nepotism, partiality in the exercise of official discretion, including enforcement of law, undue favoritism of one group against the other which undermine national peace in our country.
Rev. Prof. Asante thanked God that Ghanaians are naturally peaceful people. Our country has become a haven for nationals of other countries in the West African sub-region. He, however, postulated that the peace in Ghana is relative because the neighboring countries such Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Togo and even Nigeria have had or are experiencing some political instabilities. Though Ghana has its own internal conflicts ranging from chieftaincy disputes to misinterpreting ethnicity by some politicians, good democratic governance would prevent the country from losing its peaceful state. He therefore called on all Ghanaians everywhere to be mindful of their political comments and actions in order to promote peace in the country.
During question time, the speaker explained the position and role of the NPC which is often misunderstood. He said, “the NPC is not a law enforcement body. Where there is violent conflict, it is the Ghana Police that go to enforce peace and order during the ‘heat’ of it! The NPC go when there is order to find out what brought the violence and suggest ways to prevent it from happening again.” However, the NPC is proactive in ensuring peace by collaborating with national bodies such as the Centre for Civic Education to educate the populace on the need for peace and peaceful resolution of conflicts.
He regretted the notion that the NPC ought to react to any political utterance by individuals who seek to promote their party interest against other political parties. The work of the NPC could not be reduced to that, he stressed.
Present at the meeting was the Consul General of Ghana in Toronto who also spoke briefly on the political state of Ghana from the colonial era to present, and pointed out that Ghanaians have had to deal with and accept their ethnic differences as a people of one nation of many states! Others present included some Ghanaian Radio Stations based in Toronto, The Ghanaian News and the Executives of the Ghanaian Canadian Association of Ontario.
The moderator for the meeting was Rt Rev. Benjamin K. Asare with Rev. Fr Gabriel Opoku Ware (all of the Methodist Church) as the master of ceremony.

From: Joe Kingsley Eyiah and Jonathan Annobil, Ghanaian News, Toronto-Canada

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