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11.06.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Respect For The Presidency Essential!


After many years of military interruptions in the politics of this nation, Ghanaians decisively opted for a democratic type of governance in 1992.

Although the presidential poll that saw Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings assuming office as a civilian President – after he had headed a military regime for 11 consecutive years - was fraught with electoral malpractices which led to the writing of “The Stolen Verdict” by the then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ghanaians sighed a sigh of great relief.

In spite of the fraudulent nature of the election, citizens of this nation accorded Mr. Rawlings the due respect as the President of this country, though oftentimes, some of his unguarded utterances attracted criticisms from the private media.

Those utterances undoubtedly reduced the dignity of the Presidency – the highest office of the land, until President J.A. Kufuor came to take over from him (Rawlings) after the 2000 election.

Ever since Kufuor was sworn into office, he has made a conscious effort to restore the dignity of the presidency through his calmness and well-calculated utterances. Internationally, the office has gained a lot of respect and this has raised the image of the country.

It is therefore, that the former President has been making derogatory remarks about the current Head of State – to the extent that he recently likened him to a suspected armed robber (Ataa Ayi).

Some members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), notably Dr. Tony Aidoo, also shows gross disrespect to the President and this is manifested in his utterances too.

Apparently worried about the abuses that are directed at the presidency, the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Huhu Osman Sharabutu, has advised Ghanaians “to show greater respect and support for the President and his appointees…” (The Ghanaian Times: Tuesday, May 31, 2005).

He reportedly said leaders are chosen by God to represented Him on earth “and whoever fails to recognise them is disobeying God's orders”.

We share in the sentiments of the Chief Imam. The fact that Ghana is enjoying real multiparty democracy under the Kufuor administration does not mean that the highest office must be derided with impunity. Freedom of speech must be characterised by the exercise of caution and respect for authority. Anything short of these is detestable.