Accra, Feb. 19, GNA – Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance on Thursday received the 2015 Martin Luther King, Junior Award for Peace and Social Justice to mark Dr King’s legacy.
Mr Gene Cretz, United States Ambassador to Ghana, who presented the Award to Dr Akwetey said the works of Dr Akwetey exemplified Dr King’s message on leadership, as he strived to promote peace and constructive dialogue throughout Ghana.
He said the ‘Award honours activists, who promote justice, stability, human rights and peace, through non-violent means,’ adding that, past recipients, included, Ghanaian citizens who were promoting peace and security in their local communities and throughout the region, providing health services to underserved populations and advocating for victims of human trafficking.
Mr Cretz said they ‘carry on Dr Kings words through their actions and their aspirations and we thank them for their courage and commitment to change’.
He said Dr King’s message for peace and conflict resolution through dialogue and non-violence interaction still resonated today in the United States, in Ghana and around the world and the efforts of Dr Akwetey exemplified the principles for which Dr King fought so hard.
According to the Ambassador, Dr Akwetey’s work had had significant impact on Ghana’s elections and governance agenda, including promoting voter education, building sustaining credible electoral systems, ensuring peaceful elections and building a climate of peaceful election adjudication.
In 2012 and 2013, Dr Akwetey played a key role in Ghana’s pre and post-election, persuading the leaders of the major political parties and other stakeholders to initiate a dialogue whose results were impressive at the IDEG organised Kumasi High-Level Forum and at an Accra Peace Summit, where presidential contestants committed themselves to protecting the peace in the country, condemning political violence and impunity.
Looking ahead to the 2016 elections, the Ambassador noted that, Dr Akwetey had emphasised the essential role that the nation’s leaders played in maintaining the stability of Ghana, which required discipline, sacrifice and neutrality.
He said ‘Dr Akwetey leads the multi-party governance forum to promote broad and inclusive participation in the constitutional amendment process, especially with regards to decentralisation of governance power’.
Mr Cretz said decentralised power, which called federalism in the US- with the national government sharing local authority at the regional level, had worked well in the United States for over 200 years, adding that, it bred new generation of leaders tested on a smaller scale before they took on national leadership roles.
On his part, Dr Akwetey called for major reforms in the local governance system by electing both the District Chief Executives and Assembly Members.
He said those elected would have resources to work within the development framework of the country, adding that, the reform would transform multi-party democracy so that ‘we can begin to see our institutions transform’.
He said the CDD afrobarometer indicated a decline in public support for party democracy and called for a change in the structure of political parties.
Dr Akwetey said loans could be used to regulate the parties better, because those who pay for elections control the government agenda.
He said proposals made by the institution called for an all-inclusive governance and added that, if parties agreed, they would be part of the amendment of the constitution to open up local government to elections and urged leaders to make decisions that would balance the national interest.
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