In what appears to be a ritual, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), yesterday joined a long list of organisations, who have advised all political parties and the media to refrain from declaring results of the December general election, ahead of the declaration by the Electoral Commission (EC).
The Bishops’ Conference is only reiterating what organisations, including the EC, have earlier warned stakeholders in the electoral process against, for obvious reasons.
“The integrity and success of the forthcoming election depend primarily on the Electoral Commission. It is the institution constitutionally mandated among other duties to declare the election results,” it said in a communiqué issued by the GCBC, at the end of its annual plenary assembly, held in Tamale from October 7 to 14, 2016.
It was on the theme, “Reconciliation with God, humanity and nature in the Year of Mercy.
This is not the first time that the media and political parties are being advised to refrain from declaring election results.
The Times recalls that the EC, as far back as March 2016, cautioned media houses against declaring the winner of the presidential race in the December elections.
The Deputy Commissioner-in-charge of Administration of EC, Georgina Opoku Amankwa, addressing a workshop organised by the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), cautioned broadcasters not to sit in their studios and add up numbers to declare winners.
The fears of those who are offering the advice is that announcement by any organisation other than the EC may bring about confusion that may lead to conflict
We all know that it is the EC that is properly mandated to declare election results, but the tendency is for media institutions and political parties to announce results ahead of the EC.
That practice, if not handled very well can plunge the electoral process into confusion and its attendant violence.
However, declaration of election results is not the only potential risk that can ruin the election.
Incitement of supporters and hate speech and snatching of ballot boxes among others can also undermine the elections.
It is, therefore, important to guard against all these potential lapses in order to ensure a peaceful, credible and fair election that would be acceptable to all.
We commend the Catholic bishops for adding their voices to others, who had advocated the need to avoid rhetoric that can create tension in the country.
Similarly, the media should be circumspect, report accurately and play their gate-keeping roles professionally.
This is the only way to ensure that this year’s election also pass as peaceful and credible election.