Accra, April 28, GNA - The Chief Justice, Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah on Wednesday cautioned politicians against the use of inflammatory language as the nation prepares for Election 2004. He said while aspiring political candidates try to undo each other to win votes from the people they should not adopt strategies that had the potential of increasing tension and disrupting the peace and security of the nation.
"Towards this end, politicians should exercise great caution and restraint in their political campaigns. The media must exercise great circumspection in their reportage and the security agencies should be vigilant and circumspect in handling issues of national security," Justice Acquah emphasised.
Justice Acquah was speaking at the Fourth Annual Constitution Week celebration organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
The week - April 28 to May 4 - is being celebrated under the theme: "National Integration Through Tolerance," and is aimed at creating an increased and sustained interest and participation of all Ghanaians in the new democratic dispensation for the achievement of good governance to engender social and political stability for national unity and development.
It would also be used to examine individually and collectively, how Ghanaians had lived by the tenets and prescriptions of the Constitution over the past 12 years of constitutional rule.
Mr Justice Acquah said: "We cannot set out to achieve liberty with fanaticism, insult or expensive jokes. Neither can we achieve freedom if we take entrenched positions in thinking that we are right."
He, therefore, called on the people to be vigilant in order not to fall prey to the propaganda gimmicks of politicians; while religious and traditional rulers should play a fatherly role and make themselves ready to intervene to defuse any situation likely to lead to any tension. Expatiating on the tenets of democracy, the Chief Justice said for democracy to survive it was imperative that all players learnt to tolerate each other's views.
Mr Justice Acquah said: "When we fail to appreciate this vital aspect of democratic practice, we are bound to do much harm to the growth and maturity of our democratic experiment."
Quoting Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution to support his argument, the Chief Justice said the Constitution empowered every sane person of 18 years and above to register as a voter to exercise his or her voting right at every national and local election.
In exercising this right, registered voters might vote on party lines, some on personal preferences, while others may vote as directed. He said, notwithstanding, the reason for voting the candidate with the highest number of votes would eventually get elected to represent the whole people and not those who voted for him or her. "This is how democracy works."
Mr Justice Acquah said it was, therefore, important for Ghanaians to appreciate divergent views and the fact that all could not support one political party.
Therefore, "for us to sustain our national integration and peace, it is vital to appreciate that each one of us has the right to differ from the other. It is this liberty we enjoy that sustains our democratic experiment".
In a welcoming speech, Mr Laary Bimi, Chairman of NCCE, said the choice of the theme was based on the fact that tolerance was key to sustaining national integration especially in an election year. He said the Constitution recognised the pluralistic nature of society and enjoined the State to actively promote the integration of the people of Ghana.
The Constitution prohibits discrimination and prejudice on the grounds of place of origin, circumstances of birth, gender, religion or creed.
Towards the achievement of the above stated objectives, the NCCE Chairman said, the State was further enjoined to take appropriate measures to: "Foster a spirit of loyalty to Ghana that overrides sectional, ethnic and other loyalties.
"This should be achieved through reasonable regional and gender balance in the recruitment and appointment to public offices, provide adequate facilities for, and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the country," he said.
He said the State was also enjoined to make democracy a reality by decentralizing the administrative and financial machinery of Government to the Regions and Districts.
Journalists, Security Personnel, Students, Politicians, the Academia and a cross-section of the general public attended the celebration, which was chaired by Nii Adotey Obou, Acting Ga Mantse and Chief of Sempe. 28 April 04