The Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General for West Africa, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has called on political parties and their candidates to publicly declare their commitment to abide by the verdict of the December 7, 2016 polls.
He was speaking at a national colloquium on the security of the upcoming general election at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) at Teshie, near Accra.
The colloquium brought together representatives of some of the political parties, members of the various security services, members of the Diplomatic Corps and representatives of some civil society organisations.
Attacks on personalities
Dr Chambas also urged political parties to desist from attacks on personalities and focus on issues that affect the people.
“The election campaign should be an opportunity to debate issues and perspectives, instead of trading insults, invectives, use of hate speech or language likely to ferment bitterness, rancour or violence,” he advised.
He advocated that before the December 7, 2016 elections, the early warning capacity of the NPC should be strengthened at the regional and especially the district levels.
“It is where troubles often originate and where they need to be addressed,” he said, adding that another crucial step to take before the election date was “to form an alliance with credible media watchdog institutions, such as the Media Foundation for West Africa, whose monitoring programme publicly exposed violators of good conduct.
Dr Chambas said political violence could manifest itself in various forms that could impact on the electoral process and ultimately influence the results of the polls and urged Ghanaians to collectively prevent such an occurrence.
He reminded political parties that they had a responsibility to educate their supporters to promote peace, dialogue and consensus, urging that the Electoral Commission (EC) and the security agencies should also be strengthened to enable them to accomplish their mission and be neutral in doing their tasks.
Role of the media
Dr Chambas reminded the media that they were the guardians of free access to information and urged them not to allow themselves to be manipulated by any other interests.
“In this crucial role, be aware of the deleterious effect of promoting pernicious declarations and vile statements,” he advised the media.
He lauded Ghana’s democratic achievements, saying the country had a proven democratic background built on strong institutions, a respected Judiciary and the respect for human rights principles.
A goodwill message delivered by a justice of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Dennis Dominic Adjei, on behalf of the Chief Justice, announced that magistrates and judges across the country had received training on the electoral laws, with support from the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK.
He said the DFID had also provided additional support for the Judicial Service to produce an election manual to build the capacities of the judges, magistrates and dignitaries who needed to be trained in the electoral laws.
Justice Adjei further announced that the Supreme Court, together with some retired justices and some legal academicians, had discussed the ruling on the 2012 presidential election dispute and come out with some amendments to ensure the early disposal of future cases.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Madam Christine Evans-Klock, also in a message, said Ghana’s track record of peaceful elections and the strength of its institutions were important assets for the country.
She said there was high expectation and confidence in the capability of the institutions mandated to support transparent, efficient and peaceful elections, stressing that those institutions were not to be taken for granted.