ADVERTISEMENT

Addressing pre-election violence in Ghana: Urgent wake-up call for all citizens

As Ghana approaches its next election, a worrying pattern of pre-election violence has begun to emerge across the country.

Pre-election violence in Ghana must be a wake-up call for all citizens: Editor's Opinion

In Yendi, a clash between supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at a voting transfer centre resulted in injuries to two individuals, including a media professional from Sakara Radio. The conflict erupted over attempts by NDC agents to challenge individuals allegedly transported from Tamale to transfer their votes, escalating into violence that left the media professional with a razor blade cut on his neck.

Similarly, in Ofaakor, the Ghana Police Service arrested three individuals for illegal possession of a firearm near the Electoral Commission (EC) Office. This followed an earlier disturbance over queuing positions, which also resulted in injuries. The police intervention restored order, but the presence of firearms and the tension among voters point to underlying issues of security and trust in the electoral process.

In Cape Coast North, gunshots fired at a voter registration centre caused panic and chaos. Allegedly, these shots were fired by individuals guarding the NPP parliamentary candidate, following a dispute over the registration of transported individuals. The altercation resulted in the NDC constituency Youth Organiser's phone being seized and the NPP candidate being forcibly taken from the scene. No arrests have been made, leaving many concerned about the ability of authorities to maintain peace and order.

ADVERTISEMENT

The arrest of Alhaji Collins Dauda, MP for Asutifi South, in connection with disturbances in Kukuom during the Limited Voter Registration Exercise, further exemplifies the widespread nature of these violent incidents. The police have condemned these actions and reiterated their commitment to enforcing the law, but the frequency of such events raises questions about the effectiveness of current measures.

These incidents are not isolated. In Ablekuma North, a fight between two alleged NDC executives led to hospitalisation, showcasing that even intra-party conflicts can escalate into violence. Each of these episodes paints a picture of a nation on edge, with political rivalries spilling over into physical confrontations that jeopardise the safety and integrity of the electoral process. Recently, the National Peace Council was compelled by these violent activities to issue a statement, warning against their potential risk on the December 7 general elections.

ADVERTISEMENT

The recurring violence during the voter registration and electoral processes should be a cause for alarm for all Ghanaians. The implications are far-reaching:

  1. Erosion of Democratic Values: Violence undermines the democratic principles of free and fair elections. When voters and candidates are intimidated or harmed, the legitimacy of the electoral process is called into question.
  2. Public Safety: The safety of citizens is paramount. The presence of firearms and the willingness to engage in violent confrontations endanger not only those directly involved but also bystanders and communities at large.
  3. Media Freedom: Attacks on media professionals, like the incident in Yendi, threaten press freedom and the role of the media in providing unbiased coverage of the electoral process. Journalists must be able to operate without fear of violence to ensure transparency.
  4. National Unity: Persistent violence fosters division and mistrust among different political factions and ethnic groups, potentially leading to long-term societal fractures.

Addressing pre-election violence requires a multifaceted approach:

  1. Strengthening Security Measures: The Ghana Police Service and other security agencies must enhance their presence and responsiveness at all electoral centres. This includes proactive measures to prevent the transport of firearms and the deployment of sufficient personnel to manage crowds and defuse tensions.
  2. Political Accountability: Political parties must take responsibility for the actions of their supporters. Leadership from both the NDC and NPP should publicly condemn violence and ensure that their members adhere to peaceful campaigning and registration practices.
  3. Public Education and Engagement: A nationwide campaign, especially by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and other stakeholders to educate citizens on the importance of peaceful participation in the electoral process is crucial. This can be facilitated through media partnerships, community meetings, and civic education programmes.
  4. Legal Frameworks and Enforcement: Strict enforcement of laws against electoral violence and illegal possession of firearms must be prioritised. Swift legal action against perpetrators will serve as a deterrent to others.
  5. Conflict Resolution Mechanisms: Establishing local conflict resolution committees, including representatives from political parties, civil society, and traditional leaders, can help mediate disputes before they escalate into violence.
  6. Support for Media Professionals: Ensuring the safety of journalists through protective measures and legal support is vital for maintaining a free and fair electoral process.
ADVERTISEMENT

As Ghana prepares for its upcoming elections, it is imperative for all citizens to recognise the gravity of pre-election violence and work together towards a peaceful, democratic future. The health of the nation's democracy depends on the commitment of each Ghanaian to uphold peace and respect throughout the electoral process.

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Unblock notifications in browser settings.
ADVERTISEMENT

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.com.gh

ADVERTISEMENT