Political leaders must account for actions of followers- EC Chair

Political leaders must account for actions of followers- EC Chair
Source: Ghana|Myjoyonline.com|Malik Abass Daabu
Date: 07-09-2016 Time: 03:09:09:pm

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission says political party leaders must take responsibility for the actions of their supporters, especially during elections.

Mrs Charlotte Osei says the sanctity of the country’s elections and its security hinge on the conduct of political actors.

Party leaders, she said, must, therefore, condemn the actions and the bad behaviour of their supporters where necessary.

She said the politicians must be reminded that there are no victors in chaos, only victims.

Mrs Osei said the country's political actors had "mastered the unique art of tipping public interest  so high in the eletoral process that from one election to the other we never even get a break from discussing politics."

The relentless political discourse, she said, appears to have consigned to the back burner, the very essence of elections in a democracy - which is primarily citizens exercising their natural right to choose their leaders. 

According to the EC Chair, even though ordinarily the process of choosing leaders should be non-violent, "past experiences have taught us that we need to have a robust electoral security system to ensure the security of the electoral equipment, the voters who take part in the elections, the election officials and increasingly in Ghana, it is almost like we have to prevent war every election year."

This has made security an integral part of the electoral process which has to start way before the main elections, she stressed.

Ghana has had six largely peaceful elections since 1992 with power changing hands twice - incumbent parties losing elections to opposition parties and handing over power peacefully.

Nonetheless, Mrs. Osei warned against complacency "because we seem to have an increasingly volatile political culture...and we are going into elections where one party believes it must win, and the other believes it cannot lose [even though this] is a contest where there is going to be one winner and one loser [or] many losers."

She said whilst free press is essential for deepening the democratic practice, the culture of vigorous and animated political discussions with a string of serial callers yelling at political opponents “is beginning to create problems for our democratic culture.”

Citing statistics, Mrs Osei said Ghana in 2015 went through a demographic transition with the youth population hitting an estimated 5.3 million, constituting about 20 per cent of the total population.

“This has qualified Ghana for the dreaded youth bulge, a phenomenon believed to lead to social unrest, war and terrorism,” she stated.

Quoting a World Bank report, she said close to half of the youth – between the ages 18 and 24 – is unemployed.

Combined with the proliferation of small arms and increasing incidence of alcohol and drug abuse, chieftaincy conflicts, land disputes and ethnic tensions, the conditions are rife for “the proliferation of political and criminal violence,” the EC Chair noted.

She said the frighteningly volatile image she painted should jolt all citizens to do a “serious reflection on where we are taking this nation to.”    

The people of Ghana deserve nothing less than peace in this year's elections, she said.

"Let us not fail our country," she admonished.

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