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28.03.2012 Editorial

EDITORIAL:Working Towards Peaceful Polls

By Daily Graphic
EDITORIAL:Working Towards Peaceful Polls
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With less than nine months to this year's general election, concerns have been raised over the high political temperature in the country.

In fact, the 2012 general election is expected to test the health of our democracy, a path we chose in 1993 and which has accorded Ghana as one of the rare examples of stable democracy on a turbulent African continent.

The elections will test the health of our country because of the events of 2008 when Ghana nearly went haywire as a result of political intolerance, inciting violence and taking the law into our own hands during the run-up to the elections.

Prior to the 2008 general election, a lot had gone into preparing for free, fair, peaceful, transparent and credible elections, including the institution of a Political Parties Code of Conduct designed to instil discipline in political conduct. Unfortunately, the code could not be enforced due to the lack of an enforcement mechanism.

We are happy that the stakeholders, led by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), under its Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP), have sought to address this major handicap of the Political Parties Code of Conduct by setting out to establish a National Enforcement Body with 10 regional enforcement bodies across the country with the view to implementing the provisions of the code and, where necessary, sanction those who breach its provisions.

The Daily Graphic believes the final document should not be left in the hands of only members of the enforcement bodies but distributed to all executives of political parties, from the national through to the constituency levels.

Not only that; public education should accompany the exercise, so that the leaders who will receive the document do not put them on their shelves or drawers.

Enforcing our rules and regulations is one of the major challenges confronting this country. Many a time, laws are passed but their implementation becomes a headache.

We believe enforcing the provisions of this code is something that every Ghanaian must welcome. The level of political intolerance and abuse, if not curtailed, will derail our democratic governance that has been globally acclaimed.

If the reported cases of abuse and violence in the ongoing biometric registration is anything to go by, then we must all gird our loins to forestall any breaches in the 2012 general election.

The Daily Graphic believes the enforcement bodies must go beyond issuing reprimands and insist on undertakings from offenders, as well as publish the findings of its investigations, but recommend for prosecution any individual or group of persons who may infringe on not only the code but also breach the peace.

We need to work extra hard to guarantee free, fair and transparent polls and also ensure that the outcome of the 2012 elections is acceptable to all.

We also expect the law enforcement agencies to be up and doing and start dealing with infractions of the peace now. Failure to comprehensively and firmly deal with breaches of the peace will motivate others to do same, if not worse.

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