Bolgatanga, March 13, GNA - The Bolgatanga Municipal Inter-Party Dialogue Committee (IPDC) meeting on Thursday, underlined the need for the leadership of political parties to raise the level of awareness of their supporters through sustained public education, to reduce the incidence of political violence before and during elections. The meeting was organised by the Municipal Directorate of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to review political activities in the Municipality before, during and after the December 2004 general election.
In attendance were representatives from the Electoral Commission (EC), the security agencies, political parties, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the mass media and ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) constituting the IPDC. During the working session, members of the Committee examined pertinent issues such as the use of offensive language during campaigns, parties' compliance with electoral laws and destructive political activities including the defacing or removal of posters. Members also discussed the role of political parties as agents of change, mechanisms for conflict resolution, and equal publicity rights for all contesting political parties and the incumbency factor.
The Committee observed that in most instances, political party supporters engaged in acts of violence out of ignorance and stressed the need for the party leadership to demonstrate to their followers by example that politics could be conducted effectively without the use of violence or foul language. Committee members noted the trend of politicians basing their campaign messages on personalities rather than issues and said it contributed significantly to the use of offensive language, which in some cases led to violent confrontation between supporters of opposing parties.
The Committee expressed dissatisfaction at the poor response of political parties in the area to IPDC meetings and urged their executives to reverse the trend. The Members also called on Government to increase budgetary allocations to Constitutional bodies such as the NCCE, EC, the National Media Commission (NMC) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAG) to enable them educate the citizenry adequately on their civic rights and responsibilities.
In a welcoming address, the Bolgatanga Municipal Director of the NCCE, Mr. Emmanuel Abesoke, urged Ghanaians to rise above partisan considerations and work together with a sense of purpose towards a better future. "It is important to note that every one of us is foremost a citizen of this country, and that each of us has a role to play in making our young democracy to flourish," he declared. At the end of the session, a five-member IPDC Executive body was elected under the Chairmanship of Mr. Muhammed Nurudeen Issahaq, Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association.