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19.11.2008 General News

PEACE IN GHANA IS UNCONDITIONAL

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On our front page yesterday, we gave prominence to the visit by the National Peace Council to the residence of the former President of the Republic of Ghana, ex-Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings.

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Also present were some prominent members of the National Democratic Congress of which the ex-President is founder and father.

 

According to the council chairman, Peter Cardinal Appiah-Turkson, the purpose of the visit was to “share some of their (Rawlings and the NDC's) concerns about issues they considered as threats to peace and the electoral process.

 

The Times joins the rest of Ghana in commending the council for the maturity embodied in the decision to meet with all relevant stakeholders, including the political parties.

 

However, the Times is worried by statements made by certain personalities during the meeting at the former President's residence; statements that constituted their conditions for peace in Ghana . The former President and the NDC have a right to express their views on the electoral process and, indeed, any aspect of governance in the country.

 

We fail to understand, however, how “deliberate attempts by the NPP to peddle untruths about the NDC and give a one-sided view about the real economic situation in the country” can, by any stretch of imagination, constitute a threat to peace.

 

  As far as we can recall, every political party in this country makes statements about other parties all the time – truth or untruth. Nor is this limited to Ghana : in the recent election in USA , there were instances where the campaign teams of McCain and Obama engaged in war of words.

 

Our point is that these platform statements, by themselves, need not constitute factors that have a tendency to disturb the peace.

 

It is true what the NDC says, that there can be no peace without justice. However, which acts of injustices are there, and by whom? All the so-called acts of injustice being complained about have existed in Ghana 's party political experience since 1992. If they did not lead to violence and war at that time, why should they now?

 

We urge the Peace Council to take steps to address concerns of the NDC and ex-Flt Lt Rawlings about alleged abuse of incumbency, unilateral decisions by the E.C. and use of security forces to harass NDC members.

 

Equal attention should also be given to the claim by the respectable former career diplomat, Ambassador Victor Gbeho, to the effect that there is bad blood between the police and the NDC in the Volta Region. All of the above would not be good enough if they are proved to be true.

 

The point by Ambassador Gbeho, for instance, has the potential to lead to a breach of the peace in the region and we think that not only must the relevant, authorities, including the Council of State and the Peace Council, do something about; they must actually be seen to be doing something about them. Nothing must be left to chance.

 

However, we need help to understand how drug trafficking – even if it were by a particular political party or a known individual – could possibly be a cause of violence during any election anywhere in the world.

 

Again, we fail to get the point by Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah, former Chief of Defence Staff, that the ban placed on him and other former security officers from entering military installations constitutes even it were, as he put it, “a clear case of injustice”, also become a cause of war in this country.  

 

His words that “such injustices should be eradicated from society before there can be any meaningful dialogue about peace,” are ominous and threatening.   The Times thinks that the nation must demand a withdrawal of the unwarranted threats from the former security officer.

 

The other day, a member of parliament was on air threatening to physically prevent persons whom he considered ineligible from voting. He said, also, that since his gun was licensed, he could carry it on him to the polling station.

 

These are dangerous words because while party executives (of ALL political parties) may, themselves, not be directly involved in acts of violence, their supporters may; and the history of violence shows that these supporters pick their cues from statements like the ones referred to above, by their leaders.  

 

For the third time the Times is asking: what will constitute rigging on December 7? Will it be when a particular party wins and another loses? We have urged the election observers and the relevant constitutional body of advisers to sit with all parties to lay the ground rules, including this particular before election day.

 

Everything possible is being done by all sides to ensure not only free and fair election, but also quick resolution of election-related disputes. Toward this end the Judicial Council has not only set up special courts to hear election disputes but has actually gone the next step of training judges and other court officials in the handling of such cases.

 

What more can any nation ask for? The country needs peace, and the Times thinks that that peace is unconditional. No-one or group should be allowed to dictate any conditions under which Ghana will enjoy peace.

   

 

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