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Mon, Sep

Averting electoral violence. . . A duty for all stakeholders

Yesterday’s incident in which supporters of the two major political parties — the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) — clashed in front of the Nima residence of the flag bearer of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, cannot go without condemnation.

Although it is unclear what actually triggered the clash, during which there were gunshots and the hurling of harmful objects, the incident is a blot on the country’s good democratic credentials and this cannot be countenanced in our body politic.

The timely and speedy intervention of policemen from the Nima Police Station prevented the clash from turning chaotic and bloody.

It is painful to note that many of our youth are still ignorant of the consequences of violence and are unfortunately being hired by some politicians to engage in electoral violence across the country.

It is totally wrong and evil for our youth to allow themselves to be used as agents of violence by politicians, while the politicians and their families sit far away from the scene of violence.

It is worrying to note that the Electoral Commission (EC) has indicated that 81 of the 275 constituencies are potential hotspots, while the Ghana Police Service has identified over 5,000 polling stations as potential hotspots.

More worrying are the pockets of electoral violence across the country in recent times. For instance, there have been clashes between NPP and NDC supporters in Tamale, Gushiegu and other parts of the Northern Region. 

But beyond the youth, all stakeholders, including the security agencies, the National Peace Council of Ghana, the Christian Council and civil society organisations, have the onerous responsibility to work towards peace.

The police in particular must be more proactive in averting electoral violence such as occurred near the residence of the NPP flag bearer.

To enhance peace throughout the country, the security agencies need to map out effective and proactive strategies to deal with and prevent any form of violence at the identified potential flashpoints during the forthcoming elections.

Indeed, any act that serves to trigger violence and poses a real threat to the 2016 elections must be dealt with swiftly. Already some governance experts have sounded the alarm bell, cautioning that the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections could be marred by violence if not managed carefully because the current political environment is hostile.

The Daily Graphic would, once again, caution the security agencies and Ghanaians in general against any form of complacency on the basis of the success of previous elections in the past 24 years.

That violence is possible in nearly 30 per cent of the country's 275 constituencies, according to the EC,  cannot be treated lightly.

It is even more tricky going into an election in which one party believes it must win and the other believes it cannot lose.

So, in spite of all the preparations towards free, fair and transparent polls, we must all work to avert what is beginning to look like a volatile event.