Election 2016: Peace or Violence

Nana Akufo-Addo and John Mahama

“The richer we have become materially, the poorer we become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Yet another great year is here with us as a people and a nation of hope and unity to exercise our voting right. Mother Ghana has an opportunity to showcase and demonstrate to the world how far she has come with democracy. Come December 7, 2016, our beloved country Ghana, will make history when the people express their feeling about the state of the country and choose who should lead them. Africa’s most respected and decorated country ‘Ghana’ the continent’s star of democracy will go to the polls come December 7, 2016 in the year of our Lord.it will be 24 year since Ghana became democratic where elections were held to elect a President.

Ghana’s Democratic History

The constitution of Ghana provided for an Executive President elected through the ballot paper for a term of 4 years and eligible for re-election for only one additional term. The first Presidential election was held on November 3, 1992 which saw Fit-Lt Jerry John Rawlings duly elected as the first President of the fourth Republic. Ghana has since November 3, 1992 being considered as the most politically stable nation in West Africa and indeed Africa as a whole. Need I say more, successful successive election has being held in a peaceful, calm and violent free conditions, before during and after the elections? Our country Ghana has being given an accolade as the Bacon of Hope for Africa.

The citizenry of our dear country Ghana have a lot of role to play to ensure a peaceful and violent free election come December 7.The electoral commission, incumbent government, the major opposition party, the security services and all other stakeholder need to contribute to achieving this paramount object for mother Ghana. This paper will outline some key responsibilities of some of the stakeholder in Ghana most especially this being an election year.

The Electoral Commission

The electoral commission is the general overseer of the electoral process in any elections held in a country and for that matter need to ensure that all resources, items and personnel is provided for a smooth process. Voting processes and systems are the bedrock of ensuring that a country is democratic. The mechanisms for voting must be accurate, credible, and verifiable and ballot boxes must be safeguarded. It is important to state that this paper is to educate, create awareness and recommend some best practices for conducting free and fair violent free elections.

First and foremost, the electoral commission is to put together a register of all valid registered voters of all nationals of the country.it should comprise of only valid registered voters.

The commission should ensure that all items, resources and personnel are available for the smooth running of the elections.ie ballot boxes, voting papers, machines and all others are verified and tested before the voting day.

Again, the commission is to ensure that all personnel who will be involved in the process are given the needed training, education and provided with the right information before, during and after the elections. It is the responsibility of the electoral commission to work on ensuring that everybody understands the rules and regulations that guides the electoral process. Alongside this, the commission must take actions against anyone who breaks the rules being it a political party, candidate or individual. The commission must conduct a wide range of research around the elections, processes, the compilation of the voters register and the voters IDs to ensure that all recommendations made are evidence based. Public awareness must be created by the commission to educate citizens on what they need know about the elections, where to register, when to voter and what to do after voting. The commission must also visit a wide range of areas to ensure that all rules about the elections are understood by all and clear, as simple as possible and the interest of the voters are always put first.

The commission must ensure that the elections are conducted in a free and fair manner, the environments is violent free and resources are provided on time for the process to start.

The Avoidable in Electoral Process

Research has shown that electoral conflict and violence do not erupt from the electoral process but rather the poor management of the process by electoral commission, stakeholder and the security services. Elections in itself do no generate or constitute any violence and conflict as research has revealed rather the risk of insecurity and instability which is a result of poor handling of the whole process. The major contributor of insecurity and instability in election management is the misuse of the LEGAL FRAMEWORK. Elections that have seen conflict and violence in history and recent times came about as a result of deliberate manipulations of the LAWS (Legal Framework) by those in charge of its management and reckless use of this legislation. They do this to favor a candidate or for their selfish political interest. This action leads to insecurity, instability, violence and most often calls into questions the political systems itself.

The legal framework generally should set the basics for the organization of elections which must be a key factor for good management of electoral process. This will ensure free &, fair, peaceful, transparent, credible and violent free elections because the legal framework has serious impact on all the electoral process management.

The police service, stakeholder and citizenry must prevent gathering of people especially on the election day and the counting of the ballot. High risk areas and noted flashpoints during elections must be kept under close watch.

Abusive words and statements by politicians, party faithful’s and citizenry must be avoided before, during and after the elections since these are what sparks conflicts and create tension. Individual opinions and concerns must be tolerated and allowed any day any time since we can’t all support or follow one particular party in an election.

Recommendation

The EC must develop strategic road plan to deal with any violence that will affect the election and its credibility. There is the need for tightening of procedures before, during and after the elections to ensure peaceful and stable country. Any violence will undermine the economic growth, stability and political respect of the country. GHANA our beloved country is still ‘a inchoate democracy.”

Source: Jerry Afolabi | [email protected]

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