Without mentioning names, Ghanaian Catholic Bishops have raised objection to what they describe as certain pronouncements and actions by highly-placed persons which according to them “do not promote peace.”
Such acerbic pronouncements they stated “rather create fear, rancour, mistrust, bitterness and resentment”.
The observation was contained in a communiqué issued by the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference at the end of their annual plenary assembly held at Goaso in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Signed by the Most Rev. Lucas Abadamloora, Bishop of Navrongo-Bolgatanga and president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, the statement noted that the recent political violence in parts of the country like Sankore, Suhum, Berekum, Bekwai and Gushiegu and others leaves much to be desired.
The Bishops asked Ghanaians to note that in every election there is only one winner adding that winners should exercise restraint in celebrating their victory.
“We also urge them to commit themselves to the common good of and not the good of their party only and to take steps to dispel the mentality of winner-takes-all,” they urged.
The statement of the bishops which dwells on the forthcoming polls touched on all stakeholders and how they should play their roles to ensure peace during and after the elections.
To the media the clergymen asked that practitioners both in the private and the state segments should be fair, honest, objective and circumspect in their coverage and reportage.
“They should not assume that only their views represent the whole truth. We again call on the news media, both private and public to be careful in reporting news items that could heighten tensions among Ghanaians,” they said.
The Bishops commended the Electoral Commission (EC) for all the measures it has taken so far to ensure peaceful, free, fair, transparent and credible elections”.
They however urged that the EC be provided with all the logistics necessary for all the elections.
“We equally urge all citizens to cooperate in honesty and sincerity to enhance the work of the Electoral Commission to ensure peace,” the bishops pleaded.
The clergymen appealed to politicians to avoid the temptation to make promises that they know they cannot fulfill “because this amounts to deceit of the people of Ghana. We urge them to avoid expressions that threaten revenge and vendetta”.
On peace the bishops observed that it is not simply the absence of war but rather the fruit for right ordering of things with which God has invested human society and which must be actualized by human society.
Continuing they noted that “peace is a tranquility of order in accordance with the will of God. It is therefore a contradiction of the highest order to want to achieve peace through violence. We must also realize that there can be no lasting peace without justice. The two themes are inseparable”.
They urged security agents to be professional and remain absolutely neutral and take the appropriate action against all troublemakers.
All eligible Ghanaians, the bishops entreated, must vote as not doing so, they added, is a denial of potential support for social justice and progress.
“Voting carelessly or corruptly, whether for, a fee or other selfish consideration, can support injustice and retrogression,” they advised.
Voters the clergymen advised should reflect well and if possible discuss freely with fellow citizens the choices before them they said adding “they should critically appraise the claims, promises and platforms of their respective candidates and parties as well as the editorials and commentaries in the communications industry.”
To non-Ghanaians and Ghanaians below 18 the bishops urged that they stay away from the electoral exercise.
That Ghana has gone through four elections in the Fourth Republic according to the bishops affirms the fact that “our country is maturing in the culture of democratic governance and the rule of law. We cannot but commend our fellow Ghanaians for the many positive efforts and activities for peace and peace-building”. By A.R. Gomda