With December 7 so close, many individuals and groups are fast coming to terms with the fact that maintaining the peace is imperative.

Last Thursday, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) added its voice to calls for calm. The Association’s President, Tony Oteng-Gyasi, said, “We join all Ghanaians of goodwill to appeal for calm and responsible conduct.”
He explained why the call was necessary: “The cost of political instability can be very expensive.” Therefore, “Maturity and a long term vision are required at such moments in a nation’s history.”

Mr. Oteng-Gyasi was addressing the 48th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Business Luncheon of the AGI in Accra. It was under the theme, “Creating African Industrial Giants: Charting a Structured Path for the Growth of SMEs in Ghana.”

In an election year such as this, there is usually general apprehension about the possible fallouts, the AGI President noted. That notwithstanding, “We in AGI have no doubt about our capacity as a nation to manage our affairs, especially political elections, in a responsible manner as we have done before.”
Mr. Oteng-Gyasi recalled that in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004, Ghana went through successful elections. Inspired by these accomplishments, he said, “Ghana will in 2008 prove to all and sundry that we are a reasonable fair minded and peace loving nation.”

Recently, Hon. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Minister of Interior emphasised the importance of security to the operations of businesses saying, “Business tycoons have more to lose where there is crime.”

In Kenya for instance, post-election violence led to a down turn in business activities. Last March, Cathy Majtenyi reporting for the VOA from Kisumu, Kenya states that business leaders had reported huge losses with many predicting that Kenya would be unable to meet her projected growth targets.

In January 2008, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers estimated that the Kenyan economy could lose more than US$3.7 billion by the first half of 2008 and as many as 400,000 jobs could be at risk.
The VOA report said at the Ol-Njorowa flower farm in Naivasha which was not far from the capital Nairobi, production stopped for several days in late January. “No workers reported for duty during the thick of the crisis. In mid-February, all but 60 of the 400 employees were back on the job. Weeks after the fighting, thousands of flower farm workers still live in a displaced persons’ camp, while up to 10,000 have fled the area.”

Perhaps, Ghana’s fortune is that all eight presidential candidates running in the December polls have urged voters to remember the country has seen political violence in the past and could degenerate into conflict again.

In November, the Ghana Police Service said it had identified 1,399 violence-prone areas which could see unrest. “Most of these areas are places with a record of violent conflict, where political divisions can serve as fertile ground for fresh violence,” Director of Police Operations, Patrick Timbila told the IRIN.

Besides, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), a conflict prevention research oraganisation, has found in a recent study that the potential for violence was widespread.

Preventive measures taken so far include the set up of a National Elections Security Task Force which is headed by the Inspector-General of Police, Patrick Acheampong.

Also, it is planned that on election day, 36,000 security personnel drawn from the police, prison wardens, immigration and customs officials and the national fire service will be deployed throughout the country.

There are also 4,000 military troops who will be on stand-by in all the country’s 10 regions.

Source: Public Agenda