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06.07.2004 General News

EDITORIAL: Stop Crying Wolf

By Heritage
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ASSUMING the complaints of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are valid, The Heritage deplores the omissions and commissions of the Electoral Commission (EC), which are fueling suspicions that the electoral process is being prepared to ensure victory for the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Throughout last week, the NDC has been expressing grave concern and reservation about what it termed deliberate discrepancies in the recent voter registration and photo-taking exercises. The largest opposition party cites inconsistencies in the exercise, which it (NDC) believes were calculated attempts by the EC to influence the electoral process to guarantee the victory of the NPP in the December elections.

Professor John Evans Atta Mills, flag bearer of the NDC, who stated the position of the party at a news conference in Accra on Thursday, said “the manoeuvres were creating disenchantment and anger among sections of the electorate”.

He also alleged that another worrying issue that had the propensity to cause fear and chaos among the people was the formation of “party police” which had been disguised as a regular police force to harass people during election time.

There are further allegations that foreign nationals, mostly rebel soldiers from war torn West African countries are being trained in secret camps in some parts of the country for sinister purposes.

These, he said, are creating anger, dissatisfaction and frustration among the supporters of the NDC and if care was not taken, a time would come when the party hierarchy would not be able to contain the anger and frustration of the people.

The NDC's General Secretary, Dr. Josiah Aryeh, had earlier in the week narrated how a group of about 480 NPP supporters from Kantamanto in Accra had demonstrated against alleged disenfranchisement, after which they invaded the premises of the EC premises last week, where the Chief Director, Mr. Damuah-Agyeman, without any investigation, promptly ordered their instant registration and photo-taking.

Of course it is important to establish whether the complaints are not another instance of hysterical obstructionism by an opposition party because we heard similar allegations against the NDC in 1996 and 2000 when the NPP was in opposition. But clearly, such lapses as enumerated above are unacceptable in a political milieu where political parties, particularly ruling parties, are always perceived to be finding ways to cheat during elections.

It is however equally important to find out whether the situation is as alarming as the NDC would like us to believe. Are we not witnessing the “normal” political game being played by a party in opposition, which would like to sound the alarm bell even before there was a problem?

It is said that people who cut throats are always afraid to lie in a supine position. In the three elections conducted under the NDC there were allegations such as stuffing of ballot boxes and intimidation of opponents by NDC supporters and sympathizers to gain advantage over their opponents.

So, now that they are in opposition, members of the NDC may be seeing ghosts all over the place, projecting similar opposition perceptions on the current electoral process.

TThe Heritage believes that our democracy ought to be deepened and deserves to be defended in the face of challenges it faces due to the narrow interests of certain political groups. That is why we would like to caution both the NPP administration and the EC to ensure that we go through free and fair elections that would be acceptable to all parties.

We would equally want to sound a note of caution to the NDC and other like minded political parties or persons in opposition to refrain from making inflammatory statements on the electoral process that would inflame passions in the country. This generation has a divine responsibility to preserve the nation and the land that our ancestors have left for us in its pristine condition for posterity. We should therefore not allow sectional interests to undermine our collective effort at preserving peace.

Much as we reject the crying wolf attitude, we think that complaints, no matter how minor, should not be ignored.