The global community on Saturday marked the International Day of Democracy on the theme “Democracy under strain: Solutions for a changing world.”

The United Nations General Assembly  at its meeting on November 8, 2007, set aside September 15 each year to celebrate democracy, famously defined by US President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), as “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

It is known that the word ‘democracy’ originated from ancient Greek meaning “Rule by the simple people.” The people of Ancient Greek came together to discuss and take decisions that affected their lives and existence.

Democracy evolved from then, and by the Age of Enlightment (17thand 18th  centuries), philosophers gave democracy essential dimensions to uphold the concept of separations of power, basic civil rights/human rights, non-secular liberty and separation of church and state.

The world has come to recognise that human rights and rule of law can best be protected under democratic states, where the citizenry reserves the right to elect their representatives, through universal adult suffrage, to steer the affairs of the state to improve their well-being and welfare.

It is an undeniable fact that the essence of democracy is to make society live in stable and peaceful environment, and democratic institutions must work to promote the well-being and welfare of the society. However, in certain circumstance, democracy has not worked as a result of conflicts arising from electoral disputes.

Under such circumstances, democracy is put under strain and that often leads to the disruption in the democratic process. The question is, how can different socio-cultural societies embrace democracy without distorting their way of life.

We agree that, there are varying socio-cultural backgrounds and for democracy to thrive in all settings, there is the need to re-examine the concept of democracy to make it more meaningful and universal for all.

Nation states around the world must be encouraged to evolve the democracy that suits their cultural circumstance and historical development without compromising on the principles of human rights and rule of law.

Ghana has practised uninterrupted democratic governance for the past 25 years after the country returned to constitutional rules on January 7, 1993.

The nation has enjoyed a relatively peaceful and stable democracy although periodic elections have brought in its wake moments of anxiety.

The country’s resolve to live in a democratic state is affirmed in Article 36(1), “Ghana shall be a democratic state dedicated to the realisation of freedom and justice; and accordingly, sovereignty resides in the people of Ghana from whom government derives all its powers and authority through this Constitution.”

Although Ghana has practiced democracy for a considerable length of time, it is important for the country to strengthen its democratic system of governance by building a strong transparent, accountable and tolerant society.

Disturbingly, Ghana is faced with the proliferation of vigilante groups who the Ghanaian Times sometimes feel are a threat to our democracy.

Political vigilantism perpetrated by youth adventurism must stop if Ghana’s democracy is to grow to the point we want it to be.

What we must seek to do at all time is to be tolerant to divergent views, different opinions, and whatever difference that we have, must be resolved through dialogue.

On the occasion of the celebration of International Day of Democracy, we wish to encourage all Ghanaians to work harder to make democracy meaningful to the lives of the people, by ensuring that the national cake is distributed equitably among the society.

In that way, we would be upholding one of the values of democracy!

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