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Regional News Wed, 31 Dec 2003

Security agents, civilians urged to protect Constitutional rule

Accra, Dec.31 GNA - The Most Reverend Dr Robert Aboagye-Mensah, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, on Tuesday urged the security agencies to team up with their civilian counterparts to protect constitutional rule against acts of subversion.

He said "the power of the thumb and not the barrel of the gun," displayed in the peaceful handing over of power from one civilian administration to another elected government as in the 2000 General Election should be the yardstick for a successful constitutional process.

Most Rev. Dr Aboagye-Mensah made the comment in a keynote address at the 55th New Year School underway at the University of Ghana (UG), Legon.

The Institute of Adult Education of the UG is organising the School on the theme: "A Decade of Constitutional Rule in Ghana: Critical Issues Facing the Nation,"

Most Rev. Aboagye-Mensah whose address focussed on the theme, dwelt mainly on the role of the security services and the media in fostering democratic governance.

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He said the country's security services were structured on the coercive Colonial policies that established them, hence the need to cultivate these services as partners in forging a vibrant constitutional rule.

Most Rev. Aboagye-Mensah lauded the increased cooperation between the Police and the Military and the promotion of good relations between the security agencies and civilians.

He reminded Ghanaians of their role in resisting any attempt to subvert the Constitution while advocating that coup makers must be held personally accountable for their actions.

"In future there should be no indemnity clause for coup plotters," he said, attracting protracted applause from the over 200 participants at the School.

The Presiding Bishop stressed on the need for the people to lead moral upright lives since the bedrock of the country's democratic process depended on it.

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He suggested the putting in place of proper arrangements for conflict resolution within the security agencies.

Most Rev. Aboagye-Mensah cautioned the media to be circumspect on issues bothering on national security and fundamental human rights of the individual.

He expressed dissatisfaction about the publication of pornographic materials in a section of the print media and the airing of inflammatory programmes on the FM Stations especially during phone-in programmes. Most Rev. Aboagye-Mensah called on the National Media Commission and other relevant state institutions to be proactive in checking the anomaly.

He expressed concern about the havoc the HIV/AIDS pandemic was causing to victims, who have a role to play as active participants in the democratic process.

He said change in sexual behaviour and attitudes towards patients were the solutions to the problem

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Most Rev. Aboagye-Mensah cautioned Christians and Muslims to avoid the temptation of creating hegemony in the country's political process, adding that religious organisations should rather see themselves as agents for the sustenance of democracy.

He asked the political parties to focus on issues and be mindful of their language during electioneering campaigns. The media, he said, should be responsible to ensure peaceful elections.

Mrs Emma Mitchell, Member of the Council of State, who chaired the function, called for a fruitful national debate on realistic national wage as against the economic reality on the ground. She said a decade of constitutional rule should unite rather than polarise the country.

Source: GNA