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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Columnist: Addo, Frank

Can we trust the Police, Chiefs and the EC?

Most Ghanaians have taken for granted the essential roles played by the police, the chiefs and the Electoral Commission. Our future as a nation is however in the hands of those who man these institutions. The least unguided statement or action of the two institutions is capable of negating the efforts we have put in our developmental drive till date.

The Electoral Commission has exhibited arguably, the highest standard of professionalism so far but the utterances and actions of some of our chiefs are worrying and quite unbecoming of them. The Police cannot be said to be all that neutral.

Peace has a slender body that breaks too soon. That’s why it is important that we comment on these acts early for the betterment of our country.

Recently the chief of Tema made a serious blunder when media houses played out his endorsement of the NDC’s Presidential candidate Professor J. E. A Mills and admonishing his people to vote for him. Though there are reports that the chief made a similar endorsement of the NPP Presidential candidate, Nana Akuffo Addo, the neutrality of the chief as stipulated by the constitution was questioned because apparently his endorsement of the NPP candidate was not widely reported as that of the NDC. Such acts on the part of our chiefs should be discouraged. As if the furore generated by the action of the Tema chief was not enough, there were reports that the chief of Kokofu in the Ashanti region together with his elders and the youth had taken to the streets to demonstrate against the re-election of the Member of Parliament for the area, Adusei Poku as the NPP candidate for December. The reason is that the MP hardly comes to the constituency. It beats my imagination to hear chiefs demonstrate; are they not the venerable men who are supposed to live above reproach? In anyway, did the chief who took part in the demonstration not reveal his political affiliation by openly demonstrating against a candidate who had only been elected by one political party and not the constituency in general? Of course simple logic will tell us that the chief is in favour of the competitors of the MP in the primaries, or he is on the side of the candidates of the opposing parties.

The supreme book of the land, the constitution, is categorical with respect to chiefs taking part in politics. In chapter 22, article 276 clause 1 it states that “A chief shall not take part in active party politics; and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to Parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin”.

Let the moral dictates of this clause be fully observed and enforced other than that, the drive to preserve the unity and integrity of our nation before and after the upcoming general elections which hinges on the neutrality of the three institutions will be badly affected. If our nation is to patch up the cracks that will emerge at this time of our democratic experimentation, our chiefs, the police and more importantly, the Electoral Commission must hide their parochialism and demonstrate real neutrality.

The chief of Okadjakrom in the Jasikan District of the Volta Region could not have stated the wishes of most Ghanaians clearer when he said that “…because we occupy a unique position(sic) in the society, we should not support any presidential or parliamentary candidate or anyone seeking political office to ensure peace during the 2008 election.”

By Frank ADDO