Social / Feature




Election 2008, a Great Challenge for Ghanaians
GNA Feature, By Clemence Okumah

Accra, April 29, Ghanadot/GNA - Ghanaians would go to the polls in December this year to elect the next President and Members of Parliament to steer the affairs of the country.

Election 2008 is significant because it would offer the people another opportunity to test the democratic process, deepen and sustain the political gains made since the inception of multi-party democracy in 1992.

With the election of flag bearers for the People' National Congress (PNC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the Convention People's Party (CPP), all is set for the polls.

The activities of some political parties, especially the NPP and NDC, the two dominant parties, have caused a rise in the country's political temperature. This is not surprising!

Since 1992, the NDC has had two four-year terms in office while the NPP is also expected to accomplish an equal number of years of tenure in December.
Recently, there was a confrontation between supporters of the NDC and NPP at the residence of Sheikh Uthman Nuhu Sharubutu, the National Chief Imam, at Fadama in Accra. The Flag bearers of the two parties, Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the NDC, and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP, had gone there to express their solidarity with the religious leader and the Muslim community during the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

The NDC has already expressed fears of vote rigging and abuse of incumbency by the NPP, accusations the NPP has dismissed.

The NDC has also alleged that the voters' register for some constituencies in the Ashanti Region had been bloated, resulting in accusations and counter-accusations by the two dominant parties.

These developments have occurred even when not a single ballot has been cast, suggesting that this year's polls would not be a child's play.

It would require tact, tolerance, and respect for rules and regulations by all Ghanaian to ensure credible elections.

It is heart warming to note that to prevent confrontations like the one at Fadama, the Ghana Police Service and representatives of some political parties met in Accra and agreed on the ground rules for the electioneering campaign process.

Leaders of the various contesting political parties, in their electioneering trails, have also pledged to contribute to free, fair and peaceful elections.

Seminars, workshops and meetings being organised by State institutions and non-governmental organisations to sensitise security personnel, leaders of political parties, electorate, journalists and other stakeholders on the need for trustworthy polls are good omen for the process.

Electoral problems should not be oversimplified since all individuals, groups or parties have the potential of rigging the electoral process or engaging in an electoral fraud.

An election can be marred by varied circumstances such as undue influence by political parties in their strongholds, location or remoteness of polling stations and the time for dispatching electoral materials to the stations.

Others are bad weather, poor transportation network, and the lack of adequate information on the electoral process, intimidation of voters and negligence during vote counting, among other things.


Politics Election Ghanaians 2 Accra

Political parties are obliged to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process and ensure absolute transparency and honesty during and after the polling activities as required by the parties' code of conduct.
Political parties would be expected to restrain their supporters from taking the law into their hands before, during and after the polls.
They should also avoid attacks on personalities, acrimony and animosity that could create confusion and violence during the polls.
Instead, the parties should educate the electorate on how their manifestoes and programmes best represent solutions to the country's socio-economic and political problems. Thomas Jefferson once said the best defender of democracy is an informed electorate.
Even though the ultimate objective of every political party is to win political power, they should rise above parochial interests and forestall election violence.
Political parties should continue to make good use of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), which is a forum for parties to meet with the Electoral Commission (EC) to discuss ways of improving the electoral system.
Political parties should avoid announcing their own results even though they could monitor and collate results to ensure transparency.
They should avoid corrupting the electoral process by influencing voters with cash and gifts.
Leaders of the political parties should impress upon their supporters to exercise tolerance during the election and to restrain them from embarking on any violent behaviour.
Parties should resolve to use the legal system to resolve any impasse that might occur before, during and after the elections.
The promise by the EC to conduct credible election in reaction to President John Agyekum Kufuor's appeal to the body to ensure free and fair elections, in his address to mark Ghana's 51st independence celebration, is worth mentioning.
But the Commission should accept criticisms and suggestions that might come from the public and parties in good faith and to investigate complaints and allegations to create a level playing field for all the contesting parties.
The EC's efforts to work with all political parties to resolve the NDC allegation of bloated voters' register, particularly in the Ashanti Region, is encouraging.
Even though traditional rulers and religious leaders are expected to refrain from party politics because of their unique roles in society, they should sensitise their followers to the need for free, fair and peaceful elections.
The Judiciary must be well equipped and staffed to enable it to expedite action on electoral disputes that might be brought before the courts to forestall tension, confusion and violence.
Government should adequately resource the EC to enable it to discharge its duties effectively and distance itself from the institution to ensure its independence, transparency and integrity.
Undoubtedly, the EC is obliged to produce a reliable voters' register, acquire sufficient expertise, structures and materials required for the polls.

Politics Election Ghanaians 3 Accra

The media's role in an election is very vital and this would largely depend on the effectiveness of journalists.
They would be expected to work objectively, respect the code of ethics of their profession and to avoid misinformation, tensions and confusion.
Media outlets should announce only election results that would come from the EC and not from the various political parties.
The state-owned media in particular have a constitutional obligation in ensuring free and fair elections.
Article 55 (11) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana states that "the State shall provide fair opportunity to all political parties to present their programmes to the public by ensuring equal access to the State-owned media".
The Constitution also guarantees that all presidential candidates shall be given the same amount of time space on State-owned media to present their programmes to the people and every candidate for election to Parliament has the right to conduct his or her campaign freely and in accordance with the law.
It is refreshing that the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has assured all political parties contesting the elections of a platform to propagate their programmes and manifestoes.
According to the GBC, activities to be covered by Radio Ghana and Ghana Television would be national and regional rallies and a proposed presidential debate. All the political parties shall also have the opportunity to participate in Talking Point, Breakfast Show and Adult Education programmes on Ghana Television.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) would be expected to intensify the training of media personnel on electoral coverage to avoid drawbacks, tension and chaos during the elections.
The establishment of guidelines for journalists for the 2008 Elections and the organisation of programmes to enhance their capacities by the GJA are commendable.
The National Media Commission should investigate all complaints that might be lodged against the media and apply the right sanctions where necessary against those who violate the GJA code of ethics.
The GJA should call its members to order in case of any professional misconduct but must protect them from intimidation from politicians and other powerful members of the society.
The public should criticise the media positively to keep journalists on their toes during the election but the media should be offered the opportunity to operate freely, impartially and objectively.
The Ghana Police Service and other security agencies should put in place a special security arrangement to enable them to deal quickly and positively with incidents, riots and disturbances that might arise during the election.
Considering the crucial nature of this year's election, the political parties, the Judiciary, security agencies, and electorate and, of course, all Ghanaians would be expected to collaborate with the EC to ensure a free, fair and peaceful polls.
Election 2008 poses a big challenge to Ghanaians and they should be guided by lessons from post-election chaos and violence that engulfed some African countries.
Political violence, once it starts, becomes difficult to stop and carries along everyone, resulting in the loss of human lives and destruction of property and infrastructure that are extremely difficult or impossible to restore.






Web www.ghanadot.com

Workers' International Solidarity Day

Accra, April 29, Ghanadot/GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor would for the last time as Head of State, join Ghanaian workers to celebrate their 42nd May Day during their 51st year of attainment of nationhood ..More  


Korle Bu Hospital gates will be closed at night

Accra, April 29, Ghanadot/GNA - The Authorities of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital on Tuesday announced that all gates leading to the Hospital would be closed everyday from 2200 hours to 0500 hours....More


Coca Cola to support 500,000-dollar water programme for Ghana

Accra, April 29, Ghanadot/GNA – Coca Cola Company, the global beverage giant, on Tuesday announced a 500,000-dollar support package under its Community Watersheds Partnership Programme to provide communities in the Tano Basin with access to potable water..

  CHRAJ calls for inquiry into School Feeding programme

Accra, April 29, Ghanadot/GNA – The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on Tuesday called on the government to urgently conduct an inquiry into the alleged mismanagement plaguing the School Feeding Programme (SFP)......More
  ABC, Australia
The EastAfrican, Kenya
African News Dimensions
Chicago Sun Times
The Economist
Reuters World
CNN.com - World News
All Africa Newswire
Google News
The Guardian, UK
Africa Daily
IRIN Africa
The UN News
Daily Telegraph, UK
Daily Nation, East Africa
BBC Africa News, UK
Legal Brief Africa
The Washington Post
Mail & Guardian, S. Africa
The Washington Times
Voice of America
New York Times
Vanguard, Nigeria
Christian Science Monitor
Yahoo/Agence France Presse
Ghanaian Papers
Market Place
Official Sites
Pan-African Page
Social Scene
    Currency Converter
Educational Opportunities
Job Opening

ThisWeekGhana.com becomes
October 1, 2006

Remember to spell the D-O-T
before the dot com

Send This Page To A Friend:

The Profile Africa Media Group