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18.11.2008 Elections

Protect Integrity Of Electoral Process — JJ

Protect Integrity Of Electoral Process — JJ

The former President, Flt Lt J. J. Rawlings, has advised Ghanaians to revere the electoral process as the will of God and preserve its sanctity as a right that must not be toyed with.

He, therefore, called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to approach the December 7 polls in a way that would protect the integrity of the electoral process.

At a meeting with some members of the National Peace Council (NPC) at his Ridge residence in Accra yesterday, to address some concerns raised by members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the elections, the former President said there would not be any hue and cry against the elections, if they were organised in a free and fair manner.

The meeting, which was held in a very frank and cordial atmosphere, was to enable the NPC to seek advice from the former President to enhance its efforts at promoting peace in the country, particularly before, during and after the December 7 polls.

For more than two and a half hours that the meeting lasted, the former President and members of his team poured their hearts out as regards pertinent issues they considered worthy of urgent redress to promote peace in the country, particularly in the run-up to the December elections.

The EC, the judiciary, the security agencies, especially the police, the media, the clergy and even the NPC came under heavy criticism from the former President and his team in their forthright- submissions.

Among the concerns raised were suspicions that the security agencies, particularly the police, were in bed with the government; selective justice resulting in the lack of faith in the judiciary; lapses in the electoral process and the quiet attitude of the clergy in criticising the government for its shortcomings vis-a-vis what was the case during the administration of the NDC.

Although the two parties admitted that the meeting had come late in the day as far as the elections were concerned, they nevertheless conceded that it was significant in the interest of peace.

The NPC members present were the Chairman and Catholic Archbishop of Cape Coast, His Eminence Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson; the Ameer and Missionary in charge of the Ahmadiyya Mission in Ghana, Maulvi Wahab Adam; the Catholic Bishop of Ho, Most Rev Francis Lodonu; the Special Assistant to the Chief Imam, Sheikh Mahmoud Gedel; a lecturer at the Linguistics Department of the University of Ghana, Prof. Kofi Agyekum, and a former President of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Mrs Georgina Baiden.

On the team of the former President were his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings; a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr James Victor Gbeho; the Director-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah; a former Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah and a former Naval Commander, Rear Admiral Owusu Ansah.

The rest were the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asutifi South, Mr Colins Dauda; an official of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu; a former Deputy Minister of Defence, Dr Tony Aidoo and the lawyer of the former first family, Mr Tony Lithur.

The former first couple spotted white apparel in celebration of the 60th birthday of Nana Konadu yesterday, a celebration whose coincidence with the meeting was described by Cardinal Turkson as providential.

After briefly exchanging pleasantries, the parties went into serious discussions at exactly 10:23 a.m.

The former President said many Ghanaians had expressed various concerns about the state of affairs in the country but regretted that such concerns had been given a black-out in the media through the orchestration of the government.

Flt Lt Rawlings challenged the media not to allow themselves to be manipulated by the government but endeavour to bring out such concerns to the public domain.

According to Mr Gbeho, some senior police officers had compromised their neutrality by making certain public statements that exposed their intentions against members of the opposition in particular.

He said the inaction of the government against some senior police officers implicated in the Georgina Wood Committee probe of the cocaine scandal in 2007 and the Anloga chieftaincy dispute, for instance, gave credence to the assertion that they (some senior officers) were working for certain interests in government to clamp down on NDC activists.

He expressed the hope that the interaction between the former President and the NPC “will push Ghana an inch further towards the goal that we all want to achieve for ourselves.”

Rear Admiral Owusu Ansah, for his part, said after serving in the Armed Forces for 37 years, he had been banned from visiting any military installation just because he had lunch with the former President, also the founder of the party he (Ansah) belonged to.

He said as a result of the ban, he could not even have access to the 37 Military Hospital for medical treatment, even as a man with one kidney.

 

He questioned the justice in such an action. Mr Spio-Garbrah expressed concerns about how the nation was being portrayed to the international community, especially with false information by the government, pointing out that it was the responsibility of all Ghanaians to ensure peace in the country.

Cardinal Turkson promised to take up all the concerns raised with the appropriate bodies to seek further resolution of the problems for the enhancement of peace.

For his part, Maulvi Wahab Adam said the meeting had enlightened the NPC about a number of issues and pledged the council's commitment to addressing them.

Story by Kofi Yeboah

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