A senior lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Dr Ziblim Addi Barry, has observed that the hallmark of a mature democracy is how to manage political competition without resort to violence.
He said the potential for violence existed everywhere “the actual occurrence however depends on the attitude and behaviours of the citizens and politicians.”
Dr Barry said this when he delivered a paper on “Ghana's December 2008 election the role of the youth in peace building” at the Ashaiman Secondary School last Friday.
It was organised by the Muslim Dialogue and Humanitarian Organisation as part of its effort to promoting peaceful democratic culture in the citizenry.
Dr Barry said that most great battles of ideas and freedom in the world were won through non-violence means.
He said the founding fathers of great countries won independence without resorting to violence and cited the case of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. who won freedom for black Americans through non-violent means.
Dr Barry reminded the students that as future leaders they were expected to practice non-violence as a virtue.
“Non-violent resistance to violence is not a method of cowardice, violence begets violence and any attempt to retaliate to violent provocation only perpetuates violence in our society,” he said.
Dr Barry said this year's election was a watershed moment in the country's political history adding the success of the elections would move Ghana forward into the country of civilised democracies.
“Ghana is our promise land and you have a duty to make it peaceful and prosperous for all Ghanaians,” he said.
Dr Barry therefore urged the students to actively get involved in activities that would ensure a peaceful election and thereafter.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Darren Schemmer, who was the guest of honour, expressed the hope that Ghana would live up to its reputation as the guiding light of African independence.
“What we fervently wish is that Ghana will continue to be a leader in Africa in terms of holding free, fair and peaceful elections,” he said.
Mr Sanusi Alidu, President of Muslim Dialogue and Humanitarian Organisation urged the students to be tolerant to divergent views and dissenting opinions.
Officials from the Electoral Commission and National Commission on Civic Education took the students through the do's and don'ts of the electoral process and their civic responsibilities and duties.