Accra, Dec. 16, GNA - The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Methodist Church of Ghana in separate statements on Thursday congratulated President John Agyekum Kufuor on his re-election. "We wish to take this opportunity to congratulate all Ghanaians on the whole and especially the Presidential and Parliamentary Candidates as well as the political parties on the level of tolerance exhibited during the elections and the generally peaceful outcome of Election 2004," Mr Laary Bimi, NCCE Chairman stated.
The congratulatory message was contained in statement read at a well-attended press conference in Accra to state the Commission's position on the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
Mr Bimi also congratulated the losing presidential candidates, Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr Edward Mahama of the Grand Coalition and Mr George Aggudey of the Convention People's Party (CPP) for gamely conceding defeat. The Most Reverend Robert Aboagye-Mensah, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency congratulated Ghanaians for their fortitude, tolerance and collective decision to have a peaceful election.
Rev. Dr Aboagye-Mensah mentioned in particular the contributions of the political parties, the media, security agencies, Electoral Commission, the international community, religious institutions and democratic stakeholders for their contribution to the success of the elections.
He, however, condemned the injection and heightening of ethnic sentiments into the voting system saying it had the tendency of destroying national unity.
He called for circumspection "as elections represent the freewill and decision of the people at a particular period. We should not condemn any voter for the expression his/her democratic voice".
Rev. Dr Aboagye-Mensah also condemned ethnic politicking saying it had been the bane of Burundi, Rwanda and other war-ravaged countries. He cautioned all stakeholders, especially the media, victors and losers and their supporters about the possible effect of their behaviour.
"We should hold them accountable to their messages, especially the campaign of allegations and counter-allegations should be tested at the law courts to serve as a test case to ensure that politicking is based on issues not speculations and unfounded allegations.
"We should develop the political culture of accountability and responsible behaviour of truthfulness, issue-based campaigning as well as discard personal attacks, misinformation and character assassination."
Rev Dr Aboagye-Mensah said these negative politicking served as breeding ground for tension and anarchy, warning that "once your image has been tarnished it is difficult to regain your reputation, even if the lie is retracted".