POLITICAL parties have been asked to desist from attacks on personalities and focus on relevant issues affecting the lives of Ghanaians.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and Sahel, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, said this in Accra yesterday at a colloquium on peaceful elections in Ghana, on the theme, ‘Reducing the incidence of violence in election 2016 and beyond’.
He said election campaign should be an opportunity to debate issues and perspectives instead of trading insults, invectives, use of hate speech or language likely to ferment bitterness, rancour or violence’.
Dr. Chambas stated that excessive economic inequality and corruption could produce high level of discontent and clear grievances among marginalised groups.
According to Dr Chambas, high levels of economic inequality often go hand in hand with unemployment among youths feeling disenfranchised, who were susceptible to recruitment with the intent of forming violence or threatening opponents.
He noted that electoral systems determined how power was allocated among contenders, saying “while no single system is considered ‘best’ proportional systems appear to be better suited for countries affected by social division, especially along ethnic, regional or religious lines as they tend to reflect more accurately the diversity of society”.
On real or perceived electoral manipulation, Dr. Chambas said contestants disappointed by electoral outcomes, often claimed they had been fraudulently excluded from power.
Most often, he said, allegations of fraud were convenient excuse for poor performance, noting that real or perceived outcomes could spark violence, orchestrated by parties and candidates or carried out by their supporters or fringe elements.
He said an effective and credible process could reduce the chances that an election of whether the outcome would ignite simmering tension.
He called for the need for a consultative approach in electoral related matters saying ‘the importance of a consultative approach begins with the development of an agreement on an electoral legal framework
‘A consultative approach by the election management body remains important throughout every stage of the electoral process, binding in stakeholders and creating a sense of joint responsibility for the electoral process,’ he said.
He also called on the poetical parties to resort to constitutional and legal justice channels to seek redress for any grievances.
‘Equally, political parties and their candidates should publicly declare their firm commitment to abiding by the verdict of the polls, while urging the National Peace Council to organise peace summit to sign a collective peace accord.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Christine Evans-Klock said the series of effective and peaceful elections had certainly contributed to Ghana’s international reputation.
She said regional organisations such as ECOWAS and the African Union have shared good practices from Ghana with other countries and in turn, were bolstering national election observation this year.
She said experience across the globe motivated heads of states to embed peace, effective institutions, access to justice and human rights as the bedrock of the global community’s commitment to sustainable agenda 2030.
Madam Evans-Klock said each election has its own characteristics and calls for national institutions and civil society to respond to new challenges and flashpoints.
By Francis Asamoah Tuffour