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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Columnist: Rashid Abdulai

Trend of election violence in UK, USA and Ghana

“You got to punch him in the face, I tell you”. This rhetoric became the ultimate election zinger for one of the candidates in the just ended controversial US election campaigns. This was used as a sound bite by CNN, so people who followed the US elections on CNN might remember this. Related to the controversies of the campaign, a candidate pledged to pay the legal fees of supporters who roughed up protesters in rallies.

Worst of all, one campaign manager was accused of physical assault on a female journalist and still had full backing of the candidate, who said “I don’t leave people behind”. The US is global centre of multiparty democracy.

The US doesn’t just pride itself as the model of democracy worldwide, it actively promotes, protect and propagates this system of choosing leaders. In the middle-east, the US took the lead to institute this gold standard of governance, so far bringing down Gadafi of Libya, Sadam Hussein of Iraq. Bashar al-Assad would have long fallen but for Russia’s intervention. Saudi Monarchs are worriedly waiting in the queue. They fear their day will surely come. The supercharged election 2016 in the USA with all intent and purposes underscores the uneasiness of democracy. It underscores the anxiety characterizing elections.

Who would have expected that a country with over 200 years history of elections will still bow to election violence in the 21st Century? Folks, the simple answer is that election anxiety is real, whether in Somalia, Myamar or the USA. The reality is that excesses in political campaigns equals to violence in an otherwise spectacular pageant for selecting the most preferred politician to lead a nation.

But the other reality is that the democracy of the USA is never shaken by the mayhem that characterised the just ended elections. It in fact energizes it. After all, Americans are flesh and blood like any folks. Americans are not made of Steel. And if you think the Americans are weak by their election violence, perhaps imagine finding yourself led by strongmen, who control every phone call you make. Every article you publish and every media interview you grant. Tough as it might be, democracy remains the beacon of hope.

Barely six months before the USA elections, a British politician fell to election violence run-up to the historic Brexit referendum. She was a gem. She was a humanitarian. She was a mother. She stood for principles that would illuminate a world darkened by fear mongers. She was hacked to death by supporters of her political opponents. This was a role model. She was Jo Cox. Unlike Julius Ceaser might have said, what she believed in will live long after her and shape the world for our children and grandchildren. Her principles were not buried with her bones! A question here is whether Britain still represents the same old democratic class and freedom of expression. I bet it does. It is the alpha of democracy. The Omega of good governance. The firewall of the free world. After all, this is a country where a Radical Islamic cleric can freely preach fundamentalism and given sufficient media space to propagate that.

Post-Brexit, Jo Cox is history. She fell to election violence like many in the world, no matter where it occurred. Whether in Kenya, Nigeria or Ghana.

Ghana goes to the polls in 15 days to choose 275 Legislators and one President to govern a country of 27 million people and GDP per capita less than half of Ukraine’s. Ghana has consistently accomplished general elections for more than 2 decades in a row. After all, Ghana is arguably the touch of democracy in Africa, ranking 53 out of 167 countries in the world Democracy Index. Not too far away from the US that ranks 20 out of 167 countries. As a Ghanaian, the election is a normal political cycle the country experiences every four years. To the politicians the stakes in the 2016 election are high. To supporters of the politicians and the media, the 2016 election is a clash of the Titans.

The rhetoric and verbal attacks characterizing the campaigns are charging the supporters and the supercharged supporters engage in excesses. The residence of one of the seven Presidential Candidates was reportedly attacked by opponents. Day in day out, supercharged supporters engaged in clashes. Does this ring a bell to the precedents set by the elections in Britain and the US? Should the world democratic club take pride in this trend? Of course, not. Is there something that can be done? I guess so.

Statements have already been issued from the US and British governments threatening to punish Ghanaian politicians who incite violence. Period! Nice scenario. A teacher has taught students for a whole semester. During exams, the teacher found out all that he has taught the students were wrong. Should the students fail the exams for dittoing what the teacher has taught them? Who said the world is a fair place? Of course the students must be failed to protect the teacher. Who cares!

Ghanaians care. I believe the election 2016 in Ghana will come to pass. Ghana is not ready for civil unrest. Fufuo and palm nut soup is still palatable. Tuo zaafi and ayoyo zeri is so tasty. Aponkye nam with light soup is a daily delicacy. Banku-tilapia and pepper is great.

Football is our passion, even if we may not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Ghana is not ready to lose these simple things that unite us, make us happy and content.

In case we forget soon, let’s ask our Ivorian, Liberian and Sierra Leonean brothers. We do not have to go far to understand the price of war and civil unrest. Wishing Ghana a successful election and May God Chose a Leader who will bring Peace and Development to our Progressive Nation.

Type Amen in the Comments if you truly love Ghana. Well, I know you do even if you don’t type Amen.