The Alliance for Christian Advocacy Africa (ACAA), a faith-based organisation, has entreated church leaders to provide pastoral care for losing candidates in the December 7 general election.
“We are calling on church leaders to provide pastoral care for politicians even after the elections. We must still journey with them and help them in the hurt. Some are grieving, and yet we leave them alone,” the Executive Director of the alliance, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, made the call in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra over the weekend.
About 100 pastors from the ACAA were accredited by the Electoral Commission (EC) as domestic election observers and deployed in eight out of the 16 regions to observe the elections.
The ACAA is a network of individual Christian leaders with varied professional and academic backgrounds who feel concerned about the current disconnect between the massive Christian presence and matters of public policy and sustainable development.
Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong said it was the considered view of the group that churches and church leaders could play the central role of ensuring that in the next four years, the Odododiodio Constituency in Accra, for instance, would no longer be considered a hotspot, “and that should start from here”.
Giving a preliminary report on the findings of the group before, during and after the 2020 general election, he said it was the opinion of the group that “the peace process should not end with the declaration of the results, else every four years we will continue to have hotspots”.
“We believe that even after the elections, we should not stop the peace campaign, we should not only ask defeated candidates to accept the results but also provide them pastoral care,” he added.
Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong said members of the group observed how voting was conducted, how collation was carried out at the constituency and the regional levels and how results were declared.
“In all, we were looking for how free and fair the system would be. We are yet to give our final report, but we can say that even though some of the regions recorded violence, which was unfortunate, on the whole, we consider the elections as free, fair and peaceful,” he said
He said the position of the alliance that the elections were generally free, fair and peaceful was not without admission that there were delays in some polling stations and some other challenges.
While commending the EC for increasing the number of polling stations to reduce the usual long queues, he cited poor lighting at some of the polling stations during counting as one of the challenges observed by the group.
He suggested that the closing time of voting should be brought forward to 4 p.m., instead the 5 p.m., to ensure that counting was done before darkness set in.
Dr Opuni-Frimpong said at some polling centres, visibility was so poor that some people had to put on their vehicle headlamps for counting to continue, “and we find this worrying”.