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Opinions of Thursday, 4 December 2008

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

Re: Military determined to ensure peaceful elections

On the General News of Tuesday, 25 November 2008 it was reported from Nkoranza that one Captain Dela Klutse of the Third Battalion of Infantry in Sunyani addressed more than 200 youth directly.

The report stated in no uncertain terms that he Captain Klutse also called on the leadership of political parties “to educate their supporters and sympathizers to comport themselves well during and after the elections to ensure peace and understanding in all communities.”

The report was unable to state categorically whether Captain Klutse was advising, cautioning, addressing or warning Ghanaians through the gathering at Nkoranza or doing all these things which we found alarming and should be considered most unusual in a democracy.

Finally, the most frightening part of the report said that he Captain Klutse warned that "Nobody is above the laws of Ghana and anybody who will flout any of the electoral regulations would be dealt with accordingly, to serve as a deterrent to like-minded persons".

We members of the CPP take careful note and stand up when military officers begin to talk in such terms because of what we have suffered at their hands during and since 1966. The fate of one of our regional officials namely Mobila at the hands of the Military in the Northern Region is the most recent. We would like to remind the Military – The Ghana Armed Forces - that they are also not above the law. They have no right in law to deal with anybody to serve as a deterrent to like-minded persons. They cannot be both judge and jury in any case in which they might want to deal with anybody. That is a matter for the law courts even if the law courts have been turned into a political circus by the NPP as the Tsatsu Tsikata case amply demonstrates. As we all know he has been imprisoned because he Tsatsu humiliatingly showed conclusively that when it comes to law that Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo is a legal pigmy. Despite this the Military have no legal and moral right to operate during and after the election as a supra-legal entity.

We would like to state that we object to Military Officers addressing politicians and the citizenry directly as he Captain Klutse has done. Not even in the United States of America, not that they are a great example for us, where elections can also be stolen, is this happening. Unless their new massive military base in Accra, which they are pretending is an embassy, is now instructing our military officers in such political-speak as we saw in the post-1966 coup.

In a democracy, it is elected officials who must speak to us directly. The Captain Klutses must subject themselves to the Civilian authorities as is required by law and take to them any concerns they have. Finally, the arms in Ghana imported by the NPP from Israel some years ago are still in the system. Military Intelligence must know where those arms are if they are doing the job we are paying them to do. If the youth misbehave, which some will, it should not be serious as long as no weapons like cutlasses and firearms are involved.

The Ghana Police Service we believe must be well-equipped to provide security at our poll stations. That there will be peaceful elections there is no doubt. It is the aftermath of the declaration of results that must be watched. The problem in that case will not be the youth or the leadership of political parties. It will be the Government of Ghana and the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces who may refuse to accept they have lost or handover power peacefully.

It is good for the military to be determined to ensure a peaceful election. But that determination must itself be lawful. The Military dealing with people outside the law to serve as a deterrent is unlawful. We therefore call on the Ghana Armed Forces to obey the laws of Ghana themselves. Any and all Ghanaians are innocent until proven guilty in a law court and not in military barracks and military vehicles if when unlawful acts are committed during and after elections.

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Note on the Writer: Kwami Agbodza is the former Regional Secretary of the CPP UK & Ireland, former CPP Chairman of the Ablekuma-Central Constituency and former CPP Greater Accra Regional Education Secretary. In England he was worked with Osahene Boakye Djan in the Regional Executive of CPP UK & Ireland. He recently reviewed Djan’s book “Call to Duty” on Ghanaweb.