Why Election Peace Pact?
By I. K. Gyasi
The big ceremony, which had almost all the country’s heavyweights present or represented, took place at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, on Tuesday, November 27, 2012.
The first order of business for the person who will be sworn in as the president of the Republic of Ghana on January 7, 2013, should be to take a stand against the indiscipline, the impunity and the injustice of not keeping time at such functions. Why this call?
The function, which was scheduled to start at 10.00 a.m. and end at 1.00 p.m., rather started at about 12.25 p.m., and did not end until well after 4.00 p.m.
Some of us invitees had been there as early as 9.00 a.m. Old people like me sat waiting and waiting. During that long and tedious wait, all we had each was a bottle of tepid water.
I genuinely wonder when Ghanaian invitees to functions, and event organisers, state or private, will, for once, keep to the time schedule. It is so inconsiderate. But, let that pass.
The function witnessed such a blinding galaxy of glittering stars that I must be careful about any comment that could be interpreted as questioning the importance of the event.
Still, I ask whether the Kumasi Declaration was worth the time, money and energy expended on it as the gathering of the great ones of the land.
You see, dear reader, there already exists a document known as the POLITICAL PARTIES CODE OF CONDUCT, agreed to in 2008, and reviewed in August, 2011.
The consenting parties included the National Democratic Congress (NDC) the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), the Great Consolidated Party (GCPP), the Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE), and the United Renaissance Party (URP).
The institutions that witnessed the signing of the Code were the Electoral Commission (EC), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).
While it is impossible to reproduce whatever is in the Code in this article, it is worth quoting a few of its provisions. Under the heading: Democratic Imperatives, the Code states:
“Political parties and candidates shall have the right to put their views to the electorate without hindrance. Consequently, all political parties hereby undertake to refrain from hampering the rights of other political parties and candidates to put their views across to the electorate, and not to hinder freedom of access by other political parties and candidates to potential voters, but to enhance and promote genuine national debate on matters of vital interest.
“Paragraph 6 states: Political parties and candidates shall at all times avoid defamatory, inflammatory and foul language in all forms. Provocative, derogatory and insulting attacks on other parties, personalities , ethnic and religious groupings by way of communication, verbal or non-verbal, shall be avoided at all times.”
Under the heading, CAMPAIGNING, paragraph 2 states:
“Political parties, candidates, agents and party workers shall not obstruct, disrupt, break up or cause to be broken up, meetings or rallies organised by other political parties and candidates; nor shall they interrupt or prevent speeches and the distribution of handbills or leaflets, and the posting of posters by other parties and candidates.”
One more quote from paragraph 3, “Political parties, candidates, party members and agents must not destroy, remove, deface or in any way, tamper with paraphernalia, logos, symbols, handbills and other publicity materials of other parties and candidates.”
Finally, in paragraph 4, we have as follows: “Political parties, candidates, party members and agents shall desist from the carrying of arms and offensive weapons and the display of same, and shall extend co-operation to the law enforcement agencies, particularly for the purpose of recovery of illegal arms.”
The Code was finally adopted by registered political parties on October 11, 2011, after the August 2011 review at the LITTLE ACRE HOTEL at Aburi. The signatories for the four main parties at the time, namely, the NDC, the NPP, the CPP, and the PNC were the respective Chairmen and General Secretaries themselves.
Dear reader, a year after the political parties themselves subscribed to this Code of Conduct, why has it become necessary to haul the contending presidential candidates before their fellow citizens to sign another Declaration?
It is obvious that the provisions in the Code of Conduct are nothing more than public platitudes not matched by private practice.
In other words, the party leaders and their followers, particularly the NDC and the NPP, have continued, by word and deed, to go contrary to what they have subscribed to in the Code.
It is no longer a debate on issues of national importance, but rather a descent into the gutter to throw slimy, sticking mud at opponents.
The insults apart, posters have been removed or defaced, and physical attacks have been launched with murderous effect. For Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP and President John Mahama of the NDC, this is a last-ditch struggle to take power (Nana Akufo-Addo), or retain it (John Mahama).
Nana Akufo-Addo will never have another chance if he fails, because of his age and two defeats. For Mr. Mahama, if he fails, he will have less than one chance in a million to get the ticket as easily as the 1992 Constitution and post-death sentiment granted him. Other members of the NDC will fiercely contest the position. Of course, the NDC and NPP would be beneficiaries too.
It is no wonder that everything, fair or foul, is being used to ensure victory. When it is all over, election offences will be many: voting by minors, intimidation in strongholds, failed or successful snatching of ballot boxes, bribery in various forms, physical assault including possible killings, etc.
For all their assurances, the police will do nothing to stop the violence, and the Attorney-General (in whatever government) will not prosecute anyone of substance who commits an election offence.
I feel very much ashamed any time I hear calls by decent and well-meaning persons for prayers for a violence free election. If, for all our so-called unity, civilisation and fellow-feeling, we still need God to come down as our Peacemaker, then, may the same God help us all.
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