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11.07.2004 Politics

Upper East Inter-Party Committee urges dialogue

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Bolgatanga, July 11, GNA - The Upper East Regional Inter-Party Dialogue Committee (IPDC) at the weekend stressed the need for increased interaction among the executives of various political parties to foster greater understanding and avoid conflict in this year's general election.

It also underscored the importance of a sustained educational programme by the leadership of the parties to enlighten their supporters on their respective manifestoes, and also to persuade them to refrain from violent confrontation in their campaigns.

The meeting, held at Bolgatanga, was organised by the Regional Directorate of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and attended by representatives of political parties, the Electoral Commission, Commission for Human rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Ghana Journalists Association, the Police, Fire Service, House of Chiefs and other stakeholders.

The purpose was to explore ways of promoting dialogue and mediation among the political parties contesting this year's presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as the prevention and resolution of conflicts arising from partisan politics.

The Committee members were unanimous in the view that open and cordial interaction among leaders of political parties would have a positive influence on the conduct of their followers and supporters. Frequent meetings of various party leaders will send a signal of peace, friendship and understanding to their supporters, they observed.

Members of the committee further observed that since conflicts often arose out of misrepresentation and misunderstanding, dialogue on regular basis would build bridges of understanding and trust among the major players in the political arena, and thus make the objective of a violence-free election this year a reality

Mr Hussein Haruna, Regional Director of NCCE, urged Ghanaians not to allow themselves to be divided by politics. "Party politics is not meant to create enmity among us, but rather to generate healthy competition that would bring out the best leaders and representatives." He observed that vast majority of party members were ignorant of the manifestoes of their own parties.

He called on the leadership of the various political parties to sensitise their followers on what they stood for and, especially, on the need to refrain from the use of abusive language on opponents. Representatives of some opposition parties at the forum called on the ruling New Patriotic Party government to differentiate between state functions and party gatherings.

They further urged the Electoral Commission and other relevant authorities to restrain the government from using state resources for political activities, saying these were major areas of controversy and likely causes of potential conflict.