The Akosombo CommuniquÃ©
8/2/2012 3:04:53 PM -
As part of its efforts aimed at consolidating Ghana's democracy and its quest to ensure a peaceful, free and fair elections, The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), through its Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP), has held a three-day workshop for senior media practitioners, political party leaders and security agencies on how to ensure that media practitioners and politicians conduct themselves in a peaceful manner before, during and after the 2012 elections. The workshop was under the theme: 'The Role of the Media in an Election Year.'
The workshop brought together the key interest groups in the electoral process to discuss and find ways of ensuring that the chaos and anarchy that nearly bedeviled the country in the 2008 elections as a result of irresponsible conduct by some media practitioners and politicians is curtailed in the 2012 elections. It was attended by senior media practitioners, representatives from the political parties with representation in parliament (NDC, NPP, CPP and PNC) as well as representatives from the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana National Fire Service and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE).
Papers were delivered by resource persons drawn from academia, the media and civil society. The papers formed the basis for debate and discussions on a wide range of issues relating to the media and elections.
Participants affirmed that the need to ensure peace in the forthcoming election is non-negotiable and that the onus lies on every Ghanaian, especially the major interest groups in the election such as the Electoral Commission, the media, political parties and security agencies, to ensure an incident-free election.
The workshop thus proposed and declared as follows:
v Journalists must be guided by the principles of fairness, truthfulness and accuracy.
v Media organisations should spear-heard in-depth and investigative coverage of the 2012 elections process. This will ensure that they set the tone for intelligent and issue-based political discussions.
v Journalists must avoid using language or expressing sentiments that may promote or extend discrimination or violence on any prohibited ground of discrimination such as political opinion or orientation, race, colour, ancestry, ethnicity or ethnic origin, place of origin, sex, language, religion, creed, and national or social origins, social status, economic status.
v Journalists should be circumspect in the kind of information they put out. Even if it is the truth they should weigh the repercussions of putting the information out to the public.
v The media must maintain their independence and relative autonomy from the political parties and politicians
v The state media should provide fair opportunity to all political parties to present their programmes to the public
v The private media should pursue policies and agendas with strict adherence to the values of the journalism profession.
v Ombudsmen should be appointed in newsrooms to oversee issues of laws and ethics.
v Talk show hosts and editors must take charge and direct the content in order to promote peace and harmony on the airwaves.
v Journalists and media houses must not suppress essential information which may be disadvantageous to their political orientation or party
POLITICIANS AND POLITICAL PARTIES
v The various political parties must put in place internal mechanisms to monitor their spokespersons and advocates on air.
v Politicians should desist from all forms of hate speech and conduct that incites ethnic and religious sentiments during their campaigns because it is a recipe for election violence.
v Politicians should guard against all forms of indecent language both on campaign platforms and in the media.
v Politicians must strictly uphold values of integrity, civility and sincerity in their conduct.
v Politicians, especially the presidential and parliamentary candidates, must be at the forefront of promoting tolerance and peace both in words and in deeds and inspire their followers to do same.
v Politicians who have direct or indirect links with media organisations must help to ensure decency in the media.
v Politicians should know that the quest of power is not a do or die affair and that they should desist from using any form of foul means to obtain power.
v The state security should train and equip its personnel with technicalities of crowd control and management.
v The security agencies should ensure the safety of all party agents and voters. Voters must vote without fear and observers and party agents should do so without intimidation.
v The security agencies should be proactive in intelligence gathering throughout the pre-election, election and post-election phases in order to foil any violence before it matures.
The security agencies must be professional and neutral and deal with anybody who violates the electoral laws without fear or favour.