2016 Election: We’ll disappoint 'conflict entrepreneurs' again – WANEP

WANEP-Ghana’s National Network Coordinator, Albert Yelyang, addressing IPYDC members ahead of the 2016 polls

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding Ghana (WANEP-Ghana) has affirmed its resolve to hand self-seeking individuals or groups wishing for unrest as Ghana goes into the 2016 polls another disappointment as it did in the previous election years.

Election-related violence has in the last three decades unleashed unspeakable horrors on a number of African countries. And armed conflicts, emerging from disputed electoral results through the same period on the continent, has left behind horrifying scars particularly in the memories of children who became war orphans after their parents paid needlessly with their blood for the ink absorbed by their voting thumbs.

Fully aware no African country is immune to the same civil unrest that has befallen even the least expected neighbours, WANEP-Ghana in 2012 set up in some target constituencies an anti-violence group called Inter-Party Youth Dialogue Committee (IPYDC). The group, made up of representatives of political parties and civil servants, was tasked to engage young people (who are often the targets of conflict profiteers) in peace-building discourse and to also volunteer timely reports on security threats identified in their constituencies for prompt response from the appropriate quarters.

The initiative paid off as the 2012 general elections passed with Ghana’s peace and stability still intact amid applause from foreign election observers and the international community.

“We believe the efforts of the IPYDCs in 2012 contributed significantly to the violence-free electoral process witnessed in all the target communities especially in the Northern and Upper East regions. I tell you, some people were disappointed. Conflict entrepreneurs were disappointed because the election was peaceful. We will disappoint them again come December 2016 and early 2017,” WANEP-Ghana’s National Network Coordinator, Albert Yelyang, affirmed.

He was speaking at a training programme organised in Tamale for IPYDC members drawn from the Northern and the Upper East regions.

12 Security threats identified ahead of 2016 polls

At least 12 issues considered as security threats to the upcoming general elections in the Northern and Upper East regions came up strongly at the programme.

These include potential or perceived bias on the part of some officials of the Electoral Commission, wrongful use of the social media, intemperate language by political parties’ social commentators and serial callers, existence and excesses of parties’ vigilante groups, rival parties holding simultaneous rallies close to each other and inflammatory preaching.

The rest of the threats are politicisation of existing ethnic and chieftaincy disputes, proliferation of small arms, unresolved intraparty division, riotous contest over space for open display of party souvenirs, public endorsement of controversial chieftaincy titles by political parties and open involvement in partisan politics by traditional authorities.

For WANEP-Ghana, the security threats identified by participants are serious but all together also resolvable.

“You have gathered more experience in your work. You overcame the challenges in 2012. And your involvement has been lauded in view of the benefits your own parties and leaders tend to make from the peace promotional activities of their own kind. You can do it again in 2016,” Mr. Yelyang encouraged the IPYDC members.

Election Monitoring Programme launched

In preparation for the 2016 polls, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) in collaboration with the National Peace Council (NPC) has launched an “Election Monitoring Programme” under a joint Conflict Monitoring, Analysis and Mitigation Programme sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The network, according to Mr. Yelyang who announced the launch, also has unveiled a body known as the National Election Early Warning and Response Group and what is also called the Regional Election Early Warning and Response Groups (REEWARGs) led by the NPC to perform a function similar to that of the IPYDCs.

IPYDC members who took part in the training pledged strongly not to let Ghana and Africa down at the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary polls.

“We are poised to make an impact again as we did in the last election through the election project led by WANEP-Ghana. Going into the elections, we are hoping not only to educate our youth [against violence] but also to ensure that we, the IPYDC members, are guided by the spirit of co-existence irrespective of our various political backgrounds,” Hamidatu Abdul-Rahaman, a representative of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) based in the Northern Region, told Starr News.

Joshua Azuure, a representative of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) from the Upper East Region, made a similar pledge, saying: “It’s an honour to be a peace ambassador and we don’t intend to soil that honour by allowing the security threats we have identified to plunge this country into chaos. We will execute the task ahead of us to the best of our ability to achieve the common goal which is peace before, during and after the elections.”

Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Edward Adeti

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