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Opinions of Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Columnist: Otabil, Kofi

Creating A Peaceful Election Environment: A Common-Sense Approach


For almost two decades Ghana and most African countries have been promoting democracy as the best form of governance. Yet democracy imposes some difficult challenges on the Ghanaian society. For example, since general elections are normally held in December, the average Ghanaians are deprived of their peace not to talk about celebrating Christmas without political-related violence. Some of the challenges facing developing countries such as Ghana are that everything which needs a bit of strategic thinking has been left into the act of divine intervention and uncertainty. So during election periods, religious leaders such as pastors, prophets, imams, fetish and other religious people make pronouncements to say that the elections may result in chaos and other negative situations to create unnecessary tension within the environment. These religious leaders will then announce that everything will be fine if the nation performs one sacrifice of goats and sheep or fast and pray. I wonder if such things occur in developed countries like the USA, UK, Germany or Japan. The lesson I have learnt is that instead of developing scientific and logically-based techniques we have allowed ourselves to think that every unknown activity is spiritually-based and thus needs to be dealt with spiritually.

One of the credible ways to creating a peaceful election environment is to incorporate the wisdom of ex-presidents Rawlings and Kuffour in a civil society group to promote good governance and violent-free elections. This group shall be called ‘Citizens’ Mandate’ or any other name that will be required. This group shall be chaired by ex-president Rawlings and Kuffour and eminent citizens to supervise the electioneering campaign before, during and after. The provision should also ensure that ex-presidents remain non-partisan and neutral on a broader perspective in order to achieve a credible result. Since the 1992 constitution requires traditional rulers, priests and government employees to be politically neutral, updating such provision to include ex-presidents will be highly commendable and appropriate. The question is that if traditional rulers, priests and government employees are expected to be politically neutral why don’t we also require our ex-presidents to be politically-neutral? The principle behind this pro-active process is that in our traditional context ex-presidents are revered and respected as fathers of the nation and thus much is expected of them to render services to the nation in a civil-society based capacity.

Working Model

? The free election campaign committee shall work with civil society initiatives such as the one being promoted by MUSIGA with set objectives to promote free, transparent and all inclusive processes before, during and after elections.

? The model shall also seek to promote responsible leadership and good governance to seek effective participation of all diverse youth-based civil groups, community leaders and organisations within the country.? Adequate objectives will be set to give media, government and civil society realistic targets which are aimed at conveying significant information to mobilise and also to create awareness for responsible behaviour.

The benefits could be two-fold:

Nationalism Perspective

? Unity of purpose

? Peace and stability

? Communal spirit of nationhood

? A strong sense of patriotism

? Reduce uncertainty

? Confidence in the Ghana brand.

Economical Perspective

? Sustain development programmes

? Attract investment confidence

? Increased confidence in both macro and micro-economic activities

? Global significance of the Ghana brand

It is time for Africans to understand their peculiar circumstances in order to design proactive processes and activities to manage the threat of electoral violence. It’s time for Ghana and Africa to carve out progressive and pro-active models that has cultural underpinning. We the people of Ghana propose that ex-presidents remain politically-neutral in order to champion the cause of ONE NATION ONE PEOPLE ONE DESTINY.

Author: Kofi Otabil (Pro-active Citizen of Ghana)