By Bismark Bebli
PRESIDENT JOHN Evans Atta Mills has reiterated his government’s avowed commitment in upholding the tenets of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
According to him, in Ghana’s quest to ensure free, fair and progressive society, the government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that elections are conducted in peaceful and transparent manner, which would reflect the will of the masses.
“In our quest to sustain these noble objectives and further entrench the culture of democratic governance in the country, Ghana is committed to conducting peaceful and transparent multi-party elections at regular and constitutionally prescribed intervals, the outcome of which, we as a government and people, would be accepted as the legitimate expression of the political will of the people.”
This was contained in a keynote address delivered on his behalf by Dr. Christine Amoaku Nuamah, a Presidential Advisor, at the inaugural session of the Annual Democracy forum of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in Accra yesterday.
The session is under the theme, “Elections, Incumbency and power: Legitimacy through Integrity.” President Mills urged the participants to factor into their deliberations how to handle issues of abuse of incumbency, disruptive political practices that undermine credible elections and electoral processes, misuse of state resources for political ends, rigging of elections and others.
The President urged the participants to fashion out a practical working document that will seek to guide and encourage policy-makers, political activists and the citizenry to strengthen their commitment to promoting the conduct of transparent and credible elections not only in Africa, but also in other regions that face similar electoral challenges.
According to President Mills, in building a solid democratic country, Ghana’s efforts were aimed at creating and maintaining independent and innovative governance institutions, such as a professional and independent electoral management body that is free from political interference.
In addition, he underscored an independent and well-resourced parliament that can effectively discharge its representative, law-making and over-sight responsibilities, to a bold, independent, transparent and accountable judiciary that upholds justice and the rule of law, a well-trained and professional security force that protects and defends the civil liberties and freedoms enshrined in the constitution.
“It is in this direction that my government will continually strive to consolidate and protect and the country’s democratic gains by implementing people centered policies for national development, national decision-making and social integration that aim at providing equal opportunities for all our citizens.”
President Mills said within the wider African context, Ghana aims at complying with continental and sub-regional conventions on democracy and good governance, such as the Africa Union (AU), Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, of which Ghana has since ratified.
“In this regard, Ghana also welcomes the decision taken at the 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa on 5th February, 2010, to reject unconstitutional changes of governments and (to) act strongly against governments arising from such changes.”
On his part, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration said in recognition of myriad of challenges faced in democratic process all over the world, particularly in Africa, the theme for the forum – “Elections, Incumbency and Power: Legitimacy through Integrity,” was not out of place.
According to him, Ghana was committed to building a just, free and progressive society based on the respect for human rights, the rule of law and the entrenchment of a sound culture of democratic governance.
He said in order to achieve its vision, the government of Ghana will promote the development of professional and independent election management body that was free from political interference or control.
“It is our expectation that this particular forum would deliberate on electoral processes, the essence of democracy, identify threat, and share best practices and also use this platform to come up with practical solutions to address these challenges.”
“I am confident that seasoned panelists gathered here for the forum would share their store of knowledge and wide range of experiences on electoral processes which would stimulate a debate on practical aspects of building strong institutions for credible, free, fair and transparent elections and good governance”
Mr. Vidar Helgesen, the Secretary-General of the International IDEA, spoke on a wide range of issues and praised Ghana for entrenching democracy in Africa.