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26.08.2005 Press Review

Editorial: Dealing with electoral violence

By Statesman

LAST night, saw the climax of electioneering in the Odododiodio by-election contest with violence.

After the NPP rally at Kokompe/Kantamanto, they headed to Bukom Square, towards James Town area, there was a clash with the NDC. The road was apparently not big enough to contain members of the same community who happen to support two rival political parties.

Once again, a democratic competition of ideologies is soaked in blood. Several supporters of both sides carry the cuts of a typical mass street brawl. Yes, the fight took place in Bukom. But the area is famous for breeding fighters who ply their trade within the hallowed Queensbury Rules of old. The fight for political office also has its own rules. And those rules say that the contest must be limited to ideas; to the force of persuasion, history and charisma.

But, it was obvious that reason was not going to take centre stage in this campaign. The signs were there during the Tuesday town hall debate. The NPP candidate was one candidate whose base of rival support was determined to frustrate him from stating his case. Like the inexperienced political baby that he is he also got angry. His supporters reacted in the most intelligent way they could, by carrying him off stage.

Now, even if the son of the late MP was not allowed to “make English” there are also attempts to stop him from “making history” by succeeding his father as constituency representative.

A candidate who came out pretty bad last night, according to our reporters, was the NDC candidate. His head was apparently violently hit with a piece of wood. Odododiodio was becoming humourously known as the constituency that presented candidates who sought to expand the English language with words such as “they dos” and “they doed”. The CPP candidate, who was the late Dr Hilla Limann's ruling PNP's National Organiser has proved that creativity with the English language is not only limited to the Mankatah household. That Ghanaians can deal with, but please, not violence.

Ironically, as supporters of the two main parties fought on the streets of Accra yesterday, President Kufuor was in Tema describing the revival of a Valco 90% owned by Ghana as a belated but wholly welcome process of realisation of Kwame Nkrumah's dream to make Ghana an industrialised nation.

Kufuor remembers too well the violence that his predecessors in the Danquah-Busia family suffered under Nkrumah's CPP. He remembers the old rivalry between the two parties. He remembers the violence that members of both parties dished out to each other.

But, most importantly, he remembers that Nkrumah was a patriot. Who, through good or bad, wanted the best for his country. He remembers that after all, the nation must grow. We must have the courage to enhance political competition to a level where it would be contested on matters, on healthy ideas, messages and messengers but not in a street brawl. I urge all, lets practice politics without bitterness.