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12.11.2004 Regional News

IGP Meets Upper East Stakeholders Over December Polls.

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Bolgatanga, Nov 12, GNA - Nana Owusu-Nsiah, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), has appealed to political parties and the media to steer clear of ethnicity, chieftaincy, religion and other controversial issues that could spark off conflicts.

He said the projection of such issues often whipped up sentiments on which fanatics capitalised to create chaos.

The IGP was interacting with representatives of political parties, Electoral Commission (EC), National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), the Media and Police personnel at Bolgatanga, during a three-day working visit to the Upper East Region.

He said one area of concern was the use of radio and television phone-in programmes by some people to vilify others and appealed to the producers and moderators of those programmes to introduce mechanisms to prevent abuse.

"At this critical moment the Media have the responsibility of educating the electorate on issues that border on the success of the elections to sustain our growing democracy," he said.

Nana Owusu-Nsiah told Media Practitioners to embark on "anti-crime journalism" by refraining from giving political colouring to criminal activities being investigated by the Police, so that criminals did not hide under the cloak of politics to carry out their nefarious activities with the blessings from the Media.

He expressed concern about the failure of political parties to notify the Police in writing before embarking on processions and other special events as well as the tendency by most parties to turn naming ceremonies, anniversary celebrations and other social occasions into political rallies.

The IGP said grassroots party supporters who did not fully appreciate the ideals of democracy often perpetrated most incidents of political vandalism.

He urged the leadership of political parties to entreat, counsel and caution their supporters to act responsibly, desist from consuming alcohol while out on campaign and to avoid aggression.

Nana Owusu-Nsiah called on the Electoral Commission to create the necessary preconditions for free and fair elections by providing adequate quantities of election material at the right time, as shortages of ballot paper or indelible ink at polling centres often gave rise to security problems.

"The maintenance of peace, law and order is a shared responsibility. Politicians, Media Personnel and law enforcement agents have respective roles to play but these efforts must be co-ordinated to avoid functional conflicts," the IGP pointed out.

The Regional Minister, Mr Mahami Salifu urged key players in the electoral process to commit themselves to the pursuit of peace by observing laid down rules. He commended security agencies in the Region for their role in keeping the area peaceful over the years.

Present at the forum were representatives from the Convention People's Party (CPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Mr Godfrey Koyiba, Regional Secretary of the NPP, appealed to the Media to give equal coverage to all political parties to enable them to sell their messages to the electorate.

The Regional Secretary of the NDC, Mr Donatus Akamugre urged the IGP to impress upon Police personnel to give equal attention to complaints they received from every political party, as any bias on the part of the Police could bring about suspicion and confrontation. Mr Sammuel K. Daban, Regional Organiser of the CPP, said as far as his Party was concerned, everything was fine so there was really nothing to comment on.

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