Be circumspect with public utterances — Peace Council
The Chairman of the National Peace Council (NPC), Rev. Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, has called on the leadership and representatives of political parties to exercise prudence in their public utterances and avoid statements that could potentially kindle tensions and push the country into chaos.
He said the council had reviewed several audio and video clips in the last few weeks that suggest that if steps were not taken to guard public political statements, the country could be pushed into chaos.
“We think that at this point, we are pushing our tolerance level to a limit that we have to be careful to maintain the peace and stability of this country, and this must be our guiding principle,” he said.
Rev. Dr Adu-Gyamfi gave the caution last Wednesday (April 19) at a meeting with political parties in Accra.
The meeting, dubbed “Political Party Trust Building Programme”, brought together leaders of some of the political parties, including the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Fifi Fiavi Kwetey; the General Secretary of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Janet Nabla; the second Vice Chair of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Rita Asobayire; the National Youth Organiser of the All People's Congress (APC), Abu Hassan; and the General Secretary of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) Nana Yaa Jantuah, among others.
Also present were some members of the NPC, including Maulvi Mohammed Bin Salih, Numo Blafo Akotia Omaetu III, Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu and Mrs Joana Adzo Opare.
The Chairman of the NPC explained that although some political actors may be friends, and interact with each other amicably during private conversations, it was proper for them to exhibit that same level of cordiality and decency in their public utterances to foster peace.
“Sometimes, it’s like they want to outdo each other on the radio. One person says something on one platform and another reacts to it on another platform, and it is dangerous for us as a nation
He said political parties must also promote peaceful initiatives that would help develop the country’s democratic dispensation.
“You have the right to campaign, to seek power but we need to be careful with our public comments,” he said.
However, he noted that the council had already taken several steps to ensure peace in the country.
The council, he said, had met with the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice and conducted training for market women, fisherfolk and those involved in vigilantism in the Nima, Ayawaso, Madina and other areas.
He said the council has also been involved in conflict resolution in places like Bawku, Kandiga and Dabo in Kassena Nankana Municipal District in the Upper East Region.
The meeting, part of which was held behind closed doors, presented an opportunity for the council to introduce to the political parties and the media, documented guidelines on hate speech and other forms of indecent expressions.
Numo Blafo, who made the presentation on the documented guidelines said it provides a comprehensive framework, which is intended to institutionalise a well-structured, effective and detailed reference document that will guide and guard against hate speech and other forms of indecent expressions.
“The guidelines will contribute to enhancing the achievements of the NPC’s mandate of facilitating and developing mechanisms for conflict prevention,” he said.
A member of the council, Sheikh Armiyawo noted that sometimes, it's as if people are competing to outdo each other with inflammatory rhetoric.
He said it was important for the public to understand that political talk was not to be taken as a sign of impending conflict.
“We must be mindful of the things we say in public, especially the tendency to spark emotional comments against our opponents,” he said.