Ghana's democratic journey stands as a shining example for numerous African nations grappling with the challenges of maintaining peace and stability. Since its democratic rebirth in 1993, Ghana has admirably demonstrated its commitment to democratic principles through the successful conduct of eight consecutive elections. While occasional skirmishes have marred these elections, the overall process has been remarkably peaceful and effective. Each election cycle brings its unique tensions, yet the people of Ghana have consistently favoured peace over conflict. In a continent where elections often precipitate turmoil and instability, Ghana's electoral process, despite isolated incidents of violence, remains a distinguished model in the Sub-Saharan region.
As 2024 approaches, Ghana is poised for another electoral campaign. Political parties are preparing vigorously for a keen contest. The pre-election environment is gradually taking shape, marked by the familiar fervour of political rhetoric and the intense power struggle. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the two major political forces, are setting the stage for the 2024 campaign. Historically, Ghanaian elections have been marred by a focus on personal attacks rather than substantive issues. However, since 2008, there has been a gradual shift towards more issue-based campaigning, a trend significantly bolstered in 2016 when the current President championed this approach.
Regrettably, the run-up to the upcoming election has witnessed an alarming surge in religious bigotry, primarily targeting the NPP's presidential candidate. This strategy, aimed at swaying public opinion, risks playing the religious and tribal cards, potentially inciting discord among different religious groups and threatening Ghana's long-standing religious harmony. Ghana has always been a mosaic of diverse faiths, living in mutual respect and unity. The exploitation of religious sentiments for political gain not only endangers this religious cohesion but also poses a significant threat to the nation's democratic progress. Such divisive tactics, if unchecked, could fuel resentment and spark conflicts between religious communities.
Ghana's commitment to conducting peaceful elections every four years is commendable, yet it stands at a critical juncture. If political discourse continues to veer towards religious divisiveness, it risks fracturing the nation along religious lines for narrow political ends. It is imperative to unequivocally reject and condemn any campaign rhetoric that promotes religious bigotry. Just as there is a collective resolve to enact legislation on sensitive social issues, such as LGBTQ rights, there must be an equally strong commitment to eschew bigotry that threatens our cherished values of tolerance and unity. The preservation of Ghana's democratic integrity and social harmony depends on our collective vigilance against such divisive tactics.
Human Rights Advocate
BA, MA, MPhil, PhD Student (UEW, SCMS)