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19.11.2008 Politics

Political difference should not lead to violence -Sam Okudzeto

By The Statesman

This year's Presidential and Parliamentary election is set to go down in history as the most competitive and expensive elections ever held in Ghana.

Many have touted it as the mother of all elections whiles others call it the finals in reference to the two terms of office of both the ruling government, the New Patriotic Party and the biggest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress.

This fierceness and competitiveness has led stakeholders in the electioneering process to call for peace and decorum before, during and after the December 7 general elections.

Adding his voice to this call, Sam Okudzeto, a legal luminary, has noted that political difference should not lead to violence. He observed that political parties are a necessary machinery for democratic governance.

According to him, a person belonging to another party is not an enemy to be fought, maimed or killed, and went on to describe references by politicians to Kenya"s post election conflict as unfortunate.

A repeat of the ugly legacy of the early 1950's when in and around Kumasi violence, arson and anarchy reined for about three years is a battle all political parties have a duty and responsibility to prevent. "Since 1956 we have never witnessed any such political violence in Ghana.

Ghana has stood and will continue to stand as a symbol of hope for democratic governance in Africa and the world,' he stressed.

Mr Okudzeto made these observations at the 13th edition of the annual William Ofori Atta Memorial Lectures.

The theme for this year's three days lectures was 'William Ofori Atta: the bridge to a peaceful modern society.'

Making reference to the recent American elections, he said one of the lessons Ghana should learn is that negative propaganda does not aid in winning an election.

According to him, 'if a young 47 year old and some say inexperienced black man can overcome all the obstacles of racial prejudice and emerge victorious and become the president it should make us in Africa sit up.'

Still making reference to the American elections, Mr Okudzeto said the behaviour of Senator McCain and President-elect Obama on election night is the best lesson for us in Ghana to copy.

He pointed out that President-elect Obama is reaching out to Senator McCain and the Republicans as part of national healing. He said peace is not just a word but something we must live.

Quoting Cotton, a philosopher, Mr Okudzeto said 'Liberty will not descend to a people; people must raise themselves to liberty. It is a blessing that must be earned before it can be enjoyed.'

He was of the opinion that Ghanaians have to work towards peace, appreciating their differences either in opinion, aptitude or temperament and learn to live with it, adding, 'We are richer by our differences.'

'Perhaps it is appropriate for me at this stage to make a plea for amnesty for Tsatstu to Mr Okudzeto, 'The real legacy of William Ofori Atta, I believe is his humility.

Though one of the Big Six, the son of an important chief who was knighted, he never raised himself above the ordinary.

He shunned wealth and until his death even when he was the Chairman of the Council of State he lived in his modest bungalow type home at Tesano.

 His ability to see the funny side of everything including making fun of himself made him an example to every politician and the ordinary citizen.'

The annual William Ofori Atta Memorial Lectures was instituted in 1992. Other speakers who spoke at this year's lectures were Comfort Ocran, Chief Executive Officer of Legacy and Legacy, a human-capital development company, and Dr Mensa Otabil, Pastor, Educator, Entrepreneur and Consultant.