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Opinions of Thursday, 24 December 2020

Columnist: Paul Okudzeto

Loss of lives in 2020 general elections – A dent on our reputation

Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7, 2020 Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7, 2020

Ghana has undergone seven successful general elections since 1992 to 2016, and has managed to keep the peace and security despite their accompanying challenges.

These successes won for the country, names like a beacon of democracy and the gateway to Africa.

These names are not mere achievements and for that matter, state institutions like the Electoral Commission, security agencies, political parties, CSOs and the good citizens of Ghana need to be applauded for playing pivotal roles in ensuring peace and security and for projecting an enviable image of the country.

It has however become very instructive to note without taking any sides that the 2020 general elections witnessed the use of brute force on unarmed civilians, leading to loss of six lives with the impunity that has never happened in the history of Ghana's elections.

Successive governments have contributed positively to the maintenance of peace and managed stakeholder concerns which have accounted for much more transparent elections aimed at building a healthy democracy and confidence in state institutions as well as the respect for rule of law and human rights in Ghana.

One would have expected that Ghana could have continue to consolidate her gains in terms of violence-free elections as a positive sign of a growing democracy and also, by appointing strong people to build strong institutions.

But this seems not to have been the case; instead the nation is seen to have
outdoored and accepted the culture of impunity including an irresistible official corruption.

In recent times, several reported incidents of crime have seen no outcome from investigations .This has not only increased lack of public confidence and insecurity, but tension and arrogance in public elections in Ghana.

The Ayawaso West wagon by-election violence and use of state-sponsored national security thugs to perpetrate crimes against citizens who went about peacefully to excise their rights to vote is still fresh in
all objective minds.

Political parties have been identified as being responsible for the maintenance of vigilante groups by Emile Short Commission of Enquiry 2019 reports.

It is becoming clear that electoral violence or crime has not only increased public perception and perceived biases by law enforcement agencies, but the inability to deal ruthlessly with perpetrators of these crimes is sickening to say the least.

Sadly enough, the 7th December 2020 general elections was a repeat of several forms of electoral infractions – be it missing ballot boxes, alleged ballot stuffing, changes in declaration of results and killing of civilians among others.

As usual, the IGP has announced that an investigation is underway to bring the culprits to book.

However, majority of Ghanaians seem to have lost confidence in the current administration of the Ghana police service owing to their inability to swiftly investigate crimes leading to a trend of no outcomes and no punishments for perpetrators hence delayed Justice for victims.

To make matters worse, the EC has been divided in its own declaration of December 2020 Presidential election results without exercising due diligence and respect for the concerns of key stakeholders like the opposition candidates, CSOs and the electorates.

When will the EC bring transparency to the work? To say the least, it must be an independent and impartial referee. There is a need for dialogue and implementation of its dispute resolution strategies among others.

The once-respected Electoral Commission of Ghana must do their work without fear or favour to demonstrate high integrity for the common good of our democracy. We have only one EC in Ghana cherished by all and sundry.

God bless our home land Ghana and make us great and strong.