Against the background of rising tension in the run-up to the December 7 general election, two religious leaders and a traditional ruler have made separate appeals to Ghanaians to uphold the peace and maintain the sanctity of the elections, irrespective of their political affiliations.
The leaders are the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, the Most Rev. Philip Naameh; the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Sharubutu, and the President of the National House of Chiefs (NHC), Togbe Afede XIV.
At a press conference in Tamale yesterday, the Most Rev. Naameh, who is the Metropolitan Archbishop of Tamale and Chairman of the Northern Regional Election Early Warning and Response Group (REEWARD), called on Ghanaians to strictly adhere to the electoral laws and avoid acts of omission or commission that could compromise the outcome of the elections.
“Indeed, the elimination of electoral offences should be the utmost desire of all Ghanaians,” he added.
The Archbishop said already there had been concerns over the distribution of election materials which the Electoral Commission (EC) was addressing.
He, therefore, urged all stakeholders, including the EC and the political parties, in particular, to continue to engage one another in a civil manner and called on the EC to ensure that all logistics in their right quantities and quality were securely packed, stored and distributed to the various centres at the right time.
The Most Rev. Naameh underscored the need for adequate security to be provided at all times to ensure safety of electoral materials, while the electoral materials must be handled by persons authorised by the EC
He urged the various political parties contesting the December 7 elections to have confidence in state institutions such as the police, the courts, the EC, the National Peace Council (NPC) and others to discharge their duties free from any interference and seek redress with the appropriate authorities should the need arise.
He expressed concern over statements by some politicians urging voters to vote and stay at polling stations to protect the ballot boxes, saying those statements contradicted the EC’s call on voters to go home and return after voting to witness vote counting.
He called on electoral officers to exhibit a high sense of professionalism, integrity, fairness and transparency in the course of the voting process up to the declaration of results.
He further called on international and domestic observers to offer an objective and unbiased report on proceedings at the voting centres and urged the media not to report based on hearsay but to cross-check all their information on election day.
In a related development, Sheikh Sharubutu said the nation had gone through six consecutive elections peacefully, without recourse to any violence, hence “the forthcoming elections should not be the reason we should fight among ourselves.”
In his special message to the nation in the run-up to the December 7 general election in Accra yesterday, the Chief Imam said: “We need to show love to others and respect for their views. God took us through successful elections and He has preserved us in peace, and even as we speak now, we are living in peace.”
He called on Ghanaians to be thankful to God and act in ways that would not to disturb the peace.
“Even as we give praises to God, our actions must be intended to preserve the peace,” the spiritual leader intimated.
He said ethnocentric comments by any political actor must be discouraged “because our interest is Ghana, and as Ghanaians, we are the same individuals with a common destiny.”
As humans, Sheikh Sharubutu explained, “God had created us from a common parentage of Adam and Eve and made us into tribes and races, hence the need for us to live with one another as one”.
He advised the youth, particularly those in Muslim communities, to leave the voting area after casting their ballots on election day.
“Never should you (youth) allow yourselves to be used as agents of violence. Let not any young person be the cause of any drop of blood on election day,” he added.
Adding his voice to the calls for peace, Togbe Afede advised political actors to affirm their commitment to peace as the nation went to the polls on December 7, saying without peace it would be difficult for the country to develop.
He also urged all chiefs to play positive roles in their respective areas to ensure that the elections were conducted devoid of any violence.
Togbe Afede, who is the Overlord of the Asogli State in the Volta Region, said one underpinning of national development was peace, adding: “Politicians must, therefore, understand that peace is critical to our national development.”
The President of the NHC made the call at the inauguration of the Ghana-Israel Business Chamber (GIBC), an initiative to facilitate business activities among investors from the two countries, in Accra last Monday.
The GIBC will also provide information and conduct surveys to serve the interest of its members by providing a platform for discussions and dissection of topical issues affecting business between Ghana and Israel.
The inauguration was under the auspices of the Ambassador of the State of Israel to Ghana and Liberia, Mr Ami Mehl.
Togbe Afede, who is also the President of the GIBC, lauded the initiative because it would boost commercial activities in both counties.
According to him, Ghana was endowed with arable land, while Israel was blessed with advanced technology in the agricultural sector, “so we can benefit from Israeli agricultural technology as we strive to enhance our agricultural output”.
Expand its export base
For his part, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, welcomed the imitative and urged Ghanaian entrepreneurs to use it as a platform to market Ghana to the globe as the country strived to expand its export base.
Source: Daily Graphic
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