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26.03.2009 Politics

International Conference on Post-Election Conflict in Africa underway

By gna

Mr Cletus Avoka, Minister
of the Interior on Thursday said conflict was not only

a tragedy for humanity but also impeded socio-economic development of the country.

He said most of the conflicts had their roots in chieftaincy and ethnic rivalry but were usually masked under party political conflicts as evidenced in most African countries.

Speaking at the on-going International Conference

on Post-Election Conflict in Accra, Mr Avoka said the struggle for independence by most African countries had been characterized by conflicts, civil strife and sometimes even war, which had resulted in various degrees of instability on the continent.

He said a lot of those conflicts occurred either before, during or after general elections.

“The West African Sub-region in particular has suffered from this political turbulence which has resulted in most countries experiencing military takeovers and change of governments,” he added.

The conference was organized by the Ghana Conference of Religious for Peace (GCRP) in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and supported by the Commission on Human Right and Administration Justice and the West African Network for Peace to deliberate on lessons learnt from post election conflicts in Africa and the way forward.

Mr Avoka said Ghana had over the years been referred to as an oasis of peace because it had enjoyed relative peace, although occasionally it had been marred by pockets of conflicts erupting in certain parts of the country.

He announced that the government had put in place mechanisms and strategies to address the problem of conflicts by building conflict resolution bridges to forestall its occurrence and sensitizing the public through educational programmes and workshops on the need to promote peace.

“Government will continue to use the National Peace Council and the National House of Chiefs to resolve conflicts in the country,” he said.

He pledged government's commitment to ensuring peace and to maintain Law and order at all times and urged the participants to deliberate on issues of importance and come out with recommendations that could be operationalised to help promote national cohesion.

Dr Bonnah Koomson, Senior Lecturer, University of Ghana, Legon, who presented a paper on “Relevent laws, Policies and Guidelines for Media Coverage in Elections”, said historically, media accountability with respect to the law, rules or guidelines, had best been upheld by the courts.

“Whenever and wherever the public has been frustrated, the courts traditionally are the first healers of the conflict. Thus, in matters of post-election conflict, lawyers must be the first point of call,” he added.

He said media indiscretion had serious implications for democracy, particularly during an election year as ironically that was when the professionalism of journalists was put to the greatest test.

On ethical competence, Dr Koomson said it was conceivable to assume that some ethical violations might be associated with incompetence understanding of 'ethics' as a self regulatory mechanism.

Touching on Politician-Media relationship, he said, the dependency syndrome that might result in a relationship tends to cause considerable uneasiness in the profession, adding, “unfortunately, in all cases politicians were successful to a large extent, and won over journalists.”

Mr Ransford Tetteh, President of Ghana Journalists Association, said the public expected the media to play their watchdog role with a high sense of responsibility without infringing on the rights of individuals and society in general.

“… It will be dangerous for the media and specifically journalists to be sloppy in the work. Journalists and indeed the media must in their operations place a high premium on the Code of Ethics if they are not to be irresponsible,” he added.

He said journalists and their news organizations suffer when journalists behave unethically because it called the profession's credibility into question, adding; “when credibility suffers, so does a news organization's ability to survive economically.”

GNA

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