Fourteen civil society organisations (CSOs) in Election Programming have called on political leaders to commit to the spirit of compromise and accommodation to preserve the country’s democratic gains.
They said the scenes in Parliament that characterised the sacred and solemn process of electing a Speaker and the swearing in of Members of Parliament (MPs) which played out before the international community betrayed the political leaders’ proclamations and expressed commitments to democratic principles, the rule of law and the pursuit of the public interest.
At the height of the disorder that ensued, the CSOs recalled, first the police were called in, and then military men were invited to restore order.
“The presence of the military in the Chamber of Parliament was an extremely low point in the proceedings of Parliament. It reflects a rising pattern of excessive use of the armed forces to deal with civilian matters,” the coalition said in a statement last Thursday.
The 14 CSOs include the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI), the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
Others are Norsaac, The Ark Foundation Ghana, the Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Citizens’ Movement Against Corruption (CMAC) and IMANI Africa.
The rest are the Africa Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), SEND Ghana, the STAR Ghana Foundation and the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI).
Let’s move away
The CSOs said as a nation, “we must quickly move away from this developing pattern as we move forward”.
They condemned the unruly antics of MPs-elect which threatened to prolong a dangerous constitutional and governance situation, where there was no Parliament and no President to govern the country.
“We condemn, in no uncertain terms, the snatching of the ballot box and expect the perpetrators of this act to be disciplined by the House,” they said.
However, the CSOs said, the political leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had managed to find a compromise, leading to the election of Mr Alban Bagbin as the Speaker of the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic; Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu as the First Deputy Speaker and Mr Andrew Asiamah Amoako, the independent MP, as the Second Deputy Speaker.
The resolution achieved by the two political parties, they said, confirmed that the only way the eighth Parliament could succeed was by the two sides working together in the spirit of compromise, consensus-building and accommodation in the service of all Ghanaians and in the pursuit of development for the country.
The CSOs expressed their expectation that a culture of mediation, negotiation and compromise would be adopted by Parliament, going forward, particularly to conclude the first part of the democratic transition process that culminated in the inauguration of the President-elect, without prejudice to ongoing judicial processes challenging the 2020 presidential election declaration.