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Rawlings calls on Mahama, Goodluck to strengthen democracy

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, has called for the strengthening of traditional security agencies such as the police to better equip them in combating corruption.

The former president also called for national constitutions to clearly define corruption and protect whistle-blowers for their vigilance, especially exposing corruption at the highest level of political and traditional leadership.

 President Rawlings, who was delivering the keynote lecture at the second Nnamdi Azikiwe lecture series at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in the Nigeria city of Awka in Anambra State, last Friday, also called on Presidents Mahama and Jonathan of Nigeria to use their presidency to strengthen democratic institutions in their countries.

 Describing the two men as leaders who are respected because they do not waste time on the rituals of power, President Rawlings said such demeanour affords them the opportunity to foster a democratic culture.

 “Like President Mahama of Ghana, President Jonathan does not waste time dwelling on the rituals of power and also places value on respect as opposed to subservience. The fact that these two leaders are liked by many and not feared enhances the opportunity to foster a democratic culture. I wonder if those who criticised President Jonathan for being weak were expecting him to institute the shoot-on-sight policy they employed when they were in power.”

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 President Rawlings criticised what he said was current corrupt practices inherent in the political culture of the two countries and called for a hard look at the political systems in place.

 “We need to take a hard look at our political systems, which in their present conditions favour bribery and corruption to win power and then more bribery and corruption to recoup the cost of winning.

 “Can we not redesign our systems to incorporate more of our traditional respect for consensus and the ideal of leadership, which looks beyond the next elections to the needs of future generations?

 “Can we change the nature of party politics, if party politics is the only valid system, so that each election is not a frantic and vicious battle between two giants? We must also embrace bi-partisan or multi-partisan considerations instead of the bitter rivalry, which is the order of the day. Perhaps we should be taking a look at proportional representation, which, despite its complexity, ensures that smaller parties and alternative views are not squeezed out of governance?” he asked.