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Mon, Sep

Strengthening Ghana’s democratic practice

The critical dividends of our democratic dispensation so far are the peace and stability that it has engendered. 

But democratic governance goes beyond these two dividends, and it is a tall order to attain all the benchmarks in just 24 years of our experiment.

The democratic ethos of the rule of law, tolerance for divergent views, respect for minority rights and accommodation of all beliefs are also far from being attained. Although some progress has been made on benchmarks such as the rule of law, regular elections and growth of multi-party democracy, progress on other drivers is a bit very slow.

Ghana’s friends in the comity of nations admire the country’s forward march in democratic governance, especially when Ghana stands tall among its peers on a continent bedevilled by conflict, under-development and poverty.

On the economic front, the economy is not yet out of the woods. Unemployment still stares us in the face, interest rates and inflation are beyond budget, while GDP growth is still below what has been projected by the government.

Food production is still far from the situation that will make us self-sufficient; industrial production is at a slow pace, while the cedi continues to struggle against the major currencies, although the slide this year is far below what the country faced in 2015.

Going forward, the country must work hard to deepen the democratic culture by getting all stakeholders involved in the processes towards free and fair elections.

December 7, 2016 marks another milestone in our search to sustain Ghana as the beacon of democratic governance by successfully conducting the seventh election since 1992.

That is why the Daily Graphic is worried about the tango between the Electoral Commission (EC) and some political parties, especially regarding the disqualification of some presidential aspirants. 

The Daily Graphic has always argued that our judicial process, just like elsewhere, is adversarial and that the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism offers the way out of protracted legal disputes.

The judicial process between the EC and the political parties has not dragged on too long, but in a situation where the EC has timelines to achieve the objectives of the December 7 polls, the legal tussle will create a certain level of anxiety among the populace.

Now that the EC has allowed a number of the disqualified presidential aspirants the opportunity to correct the errors detected on their nomination forms, the legal battles will end and the parties will use dialogue to iron out challenges that may come up.

The Supreme Court, in its judgement on the 2012 election petition, suggested to the EC to initiate reforms in the electoral process.

The Daily Graphic thinks that the EC should draw lessons from these challenges and take steps to smoothen the grey areas of our democratic practice, especially those concerning elections, in order to sustain the peace and stability of the country.

After all, justice is a necessary prerequisite for peace, stability, unity and development.