Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dialogue crucial for peaceful elections

Ghanaians of all political persuasions and responsibilities have been advised to embrace dialogue as a means to peaceful; free and fair elections in December.

Speakers at the 3rd Daily Graphic Governance Dialogue that opened in Accra Tuesday were unanimous that through dialogue Ghana would succeed in firming up the democratic credentials that had made it a continental icon for others.

The speakers - including notable politicians, bankers and entrepreneurs said Ghana had, through its stable and peaceful nature, provided a shining example on the continent and could not fail the world as it went to the polls to elect a new President and Members of Parliament to govern the nation for the next four years.

Their call come in the wake of heightening tension among the political parties as a result of the stress and sometime violence at many stations where new voters are being registered by the Electoral Commission.

The opening ceremony of the dialogue, which attracted the largest number of participants since its inception three years ago, was spiced by performances in dance and music by the Tema Youth Choir and the Ghana Dance Ensemble.

The theme for this years dialogue is: "Effective Democratic Governance: The role of stakeholders", and it has the objective of explaining the multi-dimensional aspects involved in the governance of a nation; making civil society aware of their roles in shaping the destiny of their countries, as well as reviewing the progress on the democratic process & in the West African sub-region.

Delivering the opening address the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, who stood in for the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, said "since we are all stakeholders in this enterprise called Ghana, which we need to secure for our collective good and prosperity, we should all play our role in ensuring that the integrity of the election is without a shadow of doubt".

He added that "as we stand at the threshold of a new and better Ghana, ruled by a better man or the best man, we should all be committed to moving forward".

Mr Ghartey said the government had confidence in the electoral system, which is policed by the people at the polling stations.

"We have confidence in our Electoral Commission, whose independence, efficiency and integrity is recognised throughout Africa; we have confidence in our political process, we have confidence in our judiciary that has shown it has the capacity to resolve disputes, including election disputes, fairly and impartially," he observed.
Mr Ghartey said the government was also confident about the security agencies, which had demonstrated a high sense of professionalism in Ghana and abroad, and indicated that "we are all committed to free and fair elections devoid of violence, bitterness, and acrimony".

He said Ghanaians needed to recognise that though they differed in views, "we are all each other's keeper".

Mr Ghartey said what confronted the nation today was that "whilst we applaud ourselves for the significant gains we have made in resisting rule by oppressors, both internal and external, by creating laws, mechanisms and institutional good corporate governance, in furtherance of our natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity, we have not yet reached utopia".

The Attorney-General acknowledged the management and workers of Graphic Communications Group Limited for organising the dialogue, saying, "It is good for the country and it is a testimony to the credit of the Graphic group, which is, no doubt, a socially responsible company".

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, for his part, emphasised the need for peaceful, free and fair elections in the country.

He said much as people might differ in ideology, dialogue was an important tool to ensure peace and stability.

The Managing Director of Barclays Bank, Ghana, Mrs Margaret Mwanakatwe, mentioned shared understanding, information flow in a transparent manner and uniformity of purpose as some of the key tenets to ensuring a peaceful nation.

She was confident that such tenets would lead to improved lives and create an environment conducive for business and democratic growth.

Mrs Mwanakatwe joined other speakers from the Finatrade Group, Stanbic Bank and Ghana Commercial Bank, all key sponsors of the programme, in congratulating the organisers of the dialogue on their foresight and commitment to ensuring the practice of good democratic governance not only in Ghana but also in the sub-region in general.

The Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, in his welcoming address, said the move by the company formed part of the company's resolve to ensure a peaceful nation and sub-region, to enable business to thrive while the democratic principles also got entrenched through the practice of good governance.

Source: Daily Graphic

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