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General News Thu, 1 Jan 2009

Kofi Annan must help avert elections-related conflict in Ghana

We call on Mr. Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General, a citizen of Ghana, and mediator-in-chief in the Kenya conflict of a year ago, as a matter of national and regional security, to mobilize global diplomacy in averting elections-related crises in Ghana.

We call on Mr. Annan to conduct such diplomacy in public to assure Ghanaians that the ¡elders¢ were hearing their case. This process must be visible to Ghanaians before polls close in the Tain constituency on January 2, 2009. Mr. Annan must use this opportunity to quickly prevent Ghanaians from being incited into hacking their neighbors on the illusion of either of the major parties caring more about them. We believe Ghana has reached the point, reading the early warning signs of national insecurity often associated with elections and non-acceptance of defeat by ruling parties in Africa to issue a national May Day Call. Ghana still has one area to set an example for good governance in Africa - no longer peaceful elections but in acceptance of international mediation to avert national collapse instead of reacting to the aftermath.

Ghanaians have sacrificed through harsh economic adjustments and political upheavals to create the current environment in which despair may have been giving way to renewed hope as the macro-economic policies stabilized and the country was beginning to enjoy international goodwill in light of successful elections since 1992 and the transfer of power from one government to another in 2000. It is apparent that voters are yet to feel the dividends of this goodwill, and macro-economic and political stability. Any disturbance in the country is likely to further delay trickling down of the academic states of stability into reality for the people and severely damage the fledgling democratic institutions and economic gains.

Ghana, indeed the out-going government, has been involved in helping to restore peace to neighboring countries, but very few Ghanaians have seen with their own eyes the consequences of civil conflict. Now, it is our turn to be helped, before the country degenerates into maiming and killing fields, and we must not be ashamed of asking for help. We must not let international confidence in our nation slip at this time of global financial crunch. We cannot afford a bloodbath and increases in our disabled populations as a result of inflicting machete wounds on each other.

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The Tain constituency is being described as Ghana¢s Florida but far from it: Tain is not Florida, and Ghana is not the United States of America. The comparison fails to appreciate the foundations of a democratic state. Florida and the United States have more than 200 years of democratic institutions and principles, and their people do not wield machetes while confronting elections bodies. Ghana on the other hand has an embryonic history of successful elections and is located in elections-related conflict-prone region of the world.

We also take this opportunity to show appreciation for the evolution of independent media in Ghana supported by Internet protocols: Today, Ghana¢s independent media have far more advanced presentation of elections results than does the national Electoral Commission. Many of the media houses have presented these results down to constituency level, and did so more quickly than the state-owned Electoral Commission is able to convey to Ghanaians and the world through the Internet. It must be noted that while vilified by some, the figures presented by these independent media (e.g., the Radio Station JoyFM and www.Ghanaweb.com) for some administrative regions were the same as announced on the Electoral Commission¢s Web site (e.g., Central, and Volta Regions) and showed little variation in others (e.g., Upper West Region). The Electoral Commission awarded either candidate nearly the same additional votes in the Eastern Region (about 3,000) and Northern Region (about 1,000) while those for the Western Region and Greater Accra Region differed slightly between the candidates. The greatest discrepancy between the independent media and ¡official¢ tallies occurred in the Ashanti Region where the Electoral Commission had 45,000 plus for the NPP.

The winners of these elections must be Ghanaians and Ghana¢s independent media.

Source: NLG / Ananseblog
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