Commendation on the establishment of commission of inquiry and recommendations
Dear Mr. President,
We are a not-for-profit thought leadership and social action organisation aimed at promoting citizen responsibility, public policy accountability and the prioritisation of the national interest over partisan interest.
Mr. President, the use of masked security officials at polling stations is alien to our mores and highly unacceptable in today’s democracy. It intimidates innocent citizens seeking to exercise their constitutional right to participate in the electoral process and empowers these officers to act with impunity as their identities become hidden and their sense of accountability non-existent.
It is therefore not surprising that we received reports from CODEO of uniformed police officers doing their legitimate work, being attacked by un-uniformed and masked persons purporting to be security operatives of the State. How do we as citizens confidently exercise our civic responsibility to vote when the uniformed police who is to protect us is openly being abused by unknown, un-uniformed officials?
Suffice to say Your Excellency, this was just a by-election for a single constituency, what is the assurance of a better organized 2020 general elections? Our democracy, as we grow with every election, must deepen citizen confidence and highlight the hope that Ghana ought to be for Africa. The security fall-outs from the by-election dissipated the confidence and endangered the prospects of a secure and harmonious 2020 election.
The unfortunate events of January 31st, 2019 and the official post-facto rationalisations have lent significant credence to suspicions that the said masked officers are part of some legitimised party vigilante force.
While this might not be true, it heightens the political tensions and threatens the security of the 2020 elections. This theory, when allowed to fester, will only deepen political competition over party vigilantism, a situation which sets Ghana up for massive and possibly, uncontrollable violence going into election 2020.
Mr. President, as the old adage says 'coming events cast their shadow'. We are certain that this shadow of violence is a measure of how politically polarised we have become as a country and symptomatic of what may await us in 2020 if remedial steps are not taken.
This is why we highly commend your establishment of a commission of inquiry into the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election events and the quality of its membership as well as its terms of reference. This is a good sign of a commitment to objectively deal with the issues and regain the confidence of the citizenry in our electioneering system.
Mr. President, our country has become too politically polarised and tensed. The tolerance levels in our opinion has fallen. We are extremely concerned that all political parties may be preparing and willing to meet violence with violence come 2020. This eventually will not augur well for us as a country. We must be minded that Ghana is not different from countries like Rwanda prior to the regrettable genocide there. We ought to learn from the errors of our neighbours. We, therefore, wish to call on your good office to;
1. Empower and resource the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the National Peace Council to embark on a massive campaign against political violence and the enlightenment of the citizenry to at all times think of Ghana ahead of their political interest. This campaign will need you to be an active advocate in speak and indeed. It may require you to devote parts of your public speeches to preaching tolerance, peaceful co-existence and patriotism. The State of the Nation address may be a good opportunity to trigger the campaign.
2. Arrange or cause to be arranged more open engagements with all political parties to denounce violence and foster unity among the populace.
3. Undertake key reforms that will structurally and operationally ensure the political independence of our security services in a manner that assures the citizenry of their partisan neutrality and operational efficiency.
4. We recommend that the Terms of Reference of the commission of inquiry be amended to include the recommendation of interventions for the elimination of violence during elections. This should be done in active consultation with all major political parties and Civil Society Organisations.
In pursuit of the call to honour our National Pledge, we count on you to do the needful and assure you of our cooperation and support.