The National Peace Council (NPC) has been urged to take urgent steps to defuse the growing tension between the two leading political parties in the country over their disagreements over a new voters register for the 2020 general election.
The President of the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs, Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, who made the call, said the situation at hand called for immediate meetings between the leadership of the parties and the Electoral Commission (EC) to discuss the way forward in the interest of peace.
The two leading political parties — the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congresss (NDC) — backed by other smaller parties, have taken divergent positions on what they perceive to be ideal for the country as far as the decision taken by the EC to compile a new register is concerned.
While 13 parties, including the NPP, are in full support of the new register, eight others, including the NDC, are against the move, citing cost and time constraints, among other reasons.
Presently, the NDC-led group has begun a series of demonstrations, starting in Tamale, the Northern Regional capital, to force the EC to back down on its decision.
According to Nii Dowuona, who is the Paramount Chief of the Osu Traditional Area, the consequences could be dire if the disagreements between the NPP and the NDC over the new register were not resolved immediately.
“These are early warning signs which we must not gloss over. We must not sit back and watch for matters to escalate before we find solutions to them because it might be too late,” he said in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra last Saturday.
Nii Dowuona said the peace being enjoyed in the country should not be taken for granted, adding that just on the back of the successful ‘Year of Return’ events which had added to Ghana’s credentials as a peaceful nation, negative developments should not be allowed to erode those memories.
“We should also be reminded that we are seen as an oasis of peace on the continent and the whole world is watching. We have a lot to protect and that is why I find the developments most unfortunate, hence the need for cool heads for good judgement to prevail in the interest of the country,” he said.
Call for restraint
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the leaders of the two political parties to exercise restraint over the matter, no matter how sensitive it is,” Nii Dowuona said.
He said the citizenry would be willing and prepared to go with a decision taken in the interest of the state through consensus, championed by leaders of the political parties.
While urging the NPC to act, the chief also called on the clergy, traditional authorities and all relevant bodies to let their impact be felt on the matter.
According to him, for the country to move forward and jealously guard its credentials, the role of the clergy, traditional authorities, among others, could not be overemphasised.
Turning to the EC, he agreed with the commission for trying to ensure that it followed its plan of action to ensure successful elections on December 7.
However, he was quick to add that if any of its programmes was being challenged, then it had a role to play in ensuring that it adequately prepared the minds of those not in favour of its actions, particularly when the opposers constituted a strong force in the country, to ensure peace.
“The EC cannot conduct elections when there is no peace in the country,” he said, adding: “I find the posture of the EC quite disturbing because taking an entrenched position on such a sensitive national issue is not the best way to ensure peace. I am sure that if it is able to listen to both sides carefully, with the NPC as the mediator, Ghana will be the winner in all this.”
Free fair elections
Nii Dowuona said Ghana had a record for organising free, fair and transparent elections and expressed the hope that all the players in the political space would play their role to uphold that credential.
He said the role of the EC in that respect was crucial and invoked the blessings of the ancestors of the land to protect and guard that process for Ghana to sail through the elections in peace.