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24.11.2008 Elections

Peace meeting must include all political parties

By myjoyonline
Peace meeting must include all political parties

The presidential candidate and flag-bearer of the National Democratic Congress, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, has noted the on-going discussion on the proposal of the Chairman of the NPP, Mr. Peter MacManu for a meeting of the two major parties to discuss matters pertaining to the peaceful conduct of the elections to be held on the 7th of December.

Professor Mills has also noted that the comments of the General Secretary of the Party, Hon. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, have been taken out of context, and perhaps deliberately so, as the headline of the front page story of the Daily Graphic issued on the 20th of November misrepresents the NDC position.

Professor Mills welcomes a meeting to discuss matters pertaining to the peaceful conduct of elections under the auspices of any credible and impartial organizations that can facilitate such a discussion not only with the NPP but also with all the political parties that are participating in the December polls. Professor Mills would be prepared to participate in such a meeting himself should the need arise.

It is important to state that the NDC has behaved responsibly as a political party and has made proposals for building the peace before the elections well in advance of the NPP's belated call for a meeting to discuss the peaceful conduct of elections. The NDC had previously sent proposals to the National Peace Council for ensuring a peaceful, free and fair election.

In this regard, it is also worth noting that the NDC wrote to the Council of State formally requesting to have a meeting with them to discuss the measures that ought to be taken to build the peace and restore public confidence immediately after the gruesome incidents that took place in Tamale and Gushiegu.

Unfortunately, at the time the Council of State did not make itself available to meet with the party to discuss the concerns raised. The NDC also wrote to the Ghana Bar Association, The Christian Council and other organisations, which in the party's view could help to engage the political actors in constructive dialogue towards peace building. We do not think that it is too late to work together to build public trust and confidence, before the elections take place.

Professor Mills wishes to remind the good people of Ghana that the NDC peacefully handed over power to the NPP after the 2000 election, without any violence, disturbance or attempt to resist the will of the people freely expressed in the election results.

The NDC has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the building of the democratic culture in our country and considers itself a stakeholder in this process.

The prime responsibility for maintaining the nation's peace and stability however rests on the current Government and while we will all contribute to this process, it is important that the Government fulfils its obligations to the Ghanaian people in this regard.

While awaiting confirmation of the meeting to be held under the auspices of an independent non-partisan body, Professor Mills would like to raise the following concerns, which in his considered opinion ought to be addressed in such a meeting in order to build public confidence and ensure a peaceful election.

Firstly, it is of primary importance that the Leadership of the Ghana Police Service and the Security Agencies responsible for maintaining law and order on Election Day are encouraged to take immediate steps to build public confidence in the institutions under their control as well as their ability to act as truly impartial law enforcers.

This is especially necessary considering the perceived police inaction on the prosecution of those involved in the murders and destruction in Gushiegu.

There is also the case where an activist from another party was arrested with several voter identification cards, which he was keeping in his custody in the Ejura Sekyeredumase Constituency, and so far, no further action appears to have been taken on the matter.

Recently an NDC activist in Kumasi called “Tapsoba” has complained that the Regional Police Commander has threatened him directly with arrest and detention for having criticized him on a radio program in Kumasi.

We are interested in knowing how these and other similar cases will be resolved. The perceived indifference of the Leadership of the Police to ensure the institution acts in an even-handed manner may in the public mind cast doubts on their ability to protect the peace in the event of any disturbance on election- day notwithstanding their heavily publicized training activities.

Secondly, it is important that all parties come to this discussion and meeting in good faith, determined to do what is necessary to overcome any lingering feelings of suspicion or mistrust, and putting the national interest above any partisan interest.

The December 7th Election is an event within a process, the process of entrenching our democracy and ensuring that we build a peaceful, stable and prosperous society. The National Democratic Congress, which I lead, is committed to this process.

We wish to lead Ghana in the right direction, and will surely contribute our quota to building a peaceful, stable and better Ghana.

For and on behalf of Professor John Evans Atta Mills

(Hanna S. Tetteh, Director of Communications - National Democratic Congress)

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