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Politics of Friday, 28 August 2020

Source: GNA

Need for precautions to ensure national peace – IDEG

Kwesi Jonah, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Democratic Governance Kwesi Jonah, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Democratic Governance

Key stakeholders in the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections have been urged to take extra precautions to ensure a peaceful election.

“Some incidents that occurred during the voters’ registration exercise tell us that although we are currently having the COVID-19 pandemic, pockets of violence could easily spring up during the general elections,” Mr Kwesi Jonah, stated in Accra on Thursday.

Mr Jonah, who is a Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at a training workshop for political parties, on the use of the Virtual Public Space or Social Media, for the 2020 Elections.

He noted that now more than ever, social media played a crucial role in national peace-building, especially during a major election.

Mr Jonah noted that with the tendency for fake news, information with a high tendency to create chaos and false propaganda would increase during elections.

He said there was the need for key stakeholders such as journalists, bloggers, the security agencies, politicians and the public, to be well educated on how to detect false information.

He said there was also the need for well-meaning groups and individuals such as Civil Society Organisations to intensify their peacebuilding efforts through educating the public on the need to determine the veracity of the information on social media, as well as the right way of seeking redress if the need should arise.

Mr Jonah urged the security agencies, especially the police, to strive towards earning the trust and respect of the populace, by maintaining high standards of professionalism, in handling electoral disputes.

He said for the sake of national unity and peace, it was very important that the police were seen to be impartial, concerned, responsive and professional.

He noted that if the public trust the police to be equally fair to all, irrespective of one’s political leaning, that would greatly contribute towards ensuring a successful election.

Mr Jonah also said it was crucial for the National Election Security Task Force to be well resourced to deal effectively with election disputes, to prevent unnecessary escalation of such disputes.

Mr Kwami Ahiabenu, Tech Innovations Expert, said it was important for the public, especially active players in the political arena to know that putting out information on social media had to be done in accordance with the law.

He said it was important for people to be well educated on the fact that putting out information on social media in a manner that violated the laws of the country, made one liable to prosecution.

Mr Ahiabenu, a key facilitator at the workshop, said whatever was done on social media, therefore, had to be in absolute consonance with the laws of the land.

He said there was a strong need for the media to work in consonance with the police, towards ensuring that social media did not become a source of national unrest during the election.

Mr Ahiabenu noted that social media was a double-edged sword that could do both harm and good, depending on how it is used.

He said there was, therefore, the need to ensure that while using it as a tool for national growth, its potential to sow national discord was completely curtailed.

The workshop was organized by IDEG, in collaboration with the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy.