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17.10.2008 Politics

Political violence or not, this is Ghana 2008


This is not the first election in Ghana. And December 2008 will not be the last. Those preaching doomsday for December 7, may have reason for wanting it, but they should note that it is not going to happen. Ghanaians know better now.

Besides, power sharing is not a fancy concept. It is a distress call for a failed state!

Vice President Alieu, inferring the same sentiment expressed above, said recently that 'We have had elections for years in Ghana. And each year, we have managed to pull it off. ' He said this on national television with a perplexed look. He has reason to worry. The NPP, his party, is in power and may be blamed should something go wrong.

There is the assumption these days that when governments lose elections, as happened in Kenya and Zimbabwe, they then opt for power sharing instead of moving out.

Based on this assumption the BBC recently asked 'What incentive does this give to other leaders to hold free and fair elections? Does this send the signal out to all leaders if they don't want to relinquish power, despite losing an election, they don't have to?'

Another side of the question the BBC should have asked is whether power sharing provides opposition parties the opportunity to misbehave also. Does it induce them to stir up confusion and chaos on the way to election day?

A case can be made that the political scene in Ghana is very much unlike Kenya or Zimbabwe. There may be some here who may wish for what happened in Kenya and Zimbabwe with the fervent hope of bringing in power sharing.

The troubling signs of the above are here, manifesting themselves in violent speeches and threats.

At times, you see campaign signs defaced and you know there is some mischief afoot. But never mind who is being abused. The defaced signs should not automatically point out the culprit because the act itself presents equal opportunity for opposing parties alike.

One can violate his own party flag in the dark, knowing fully well that the other side can be blamed. But no matter how mild the offense, the danger embedded in this spoiler scheme is the simple strategy for disaster and power sharing. Kick up enough fuss and the election can be nullified and the power sharing police would be called in.

Even so, the fear and anticipation for violence, and consequently power sharing in Ghana, are needless or unfounded.

What went on in Zimbabwe is different. The elections there happened and were really flawed. But in Ghana, the elections are yet to happen. Violence, at the moment, is being talked up - like burning your own flag in the dark - as a campaign strategy, in anticipation for power sharing.

As a political concept, power sharing is a dangerous preposition. Some see in it an opportunity to share the loot, like as happened during coups when the armed and security forces join hands to rule; while others embrace it as a panacea for all political ills. What it is really is a distress signal from a failed state where civilization has already fled.

In 2007, a severely flawed election brought power sharing to Kenya. Earlier this year, 2008, the ugly notion reared its head in Zimbabwe. More than '600,000 people were displaced and 1,500 were killed in ethnic violence' as consequence to the failed elections in Kenya alone according to the BBC.

Yet, this dangerous notion of power sharing is rearing up its head in some minds in Ghana.

In Zimbabwe, despite the heavy cost, the power sharing arrangement has only produced a stalemate: A power sharing in name only that sees President Mugabe not bulging. How laughable it is now to have imagined that that Mugabe took the risk to abort a legitimate election, an election that he lost, only to really play fair with power sharing!

Pity poor President Mbeki of South Africa, the architect of Zimbabwe's power sharing plan. Despite failing in his own country, there is still talk about pulling him back into the Zimbabwe peace process. But this will not work. As a power broker, Mbeki is as redundant as the notion of power sharing should be.

For Ghanaians who are entertaining the power sharing run, there is this to say to them: Perish the thought. Only those who wish Ghana ill the most - those who wish to rule by foul means - will push the notion forward.

E. Ablorh-Odjidja,Publsiher, Washington, DC, October 6, 2008