A former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, has asked Ghanaians to make the 2012 general election further proof that the country is a true African success story whose best days are yet to come.
In an exclusive letter to the Daily Graphic, he said, “Beyond party differences, there is the greater national interest at stake. After the elections, we shall have to work together across party lines to pursue the development of our country. Much remains to be done to ensure a better future for our children. We cannot afford to let them down.”
He explained that since 1992, Ghana, above all its electoral issues, had conducted five elections and seen two peaceful transfers of power between parties and made the country become a by word for electoral success and political stability in Africa.
“As a result, we have prospered. We are an open country, with a vibrant press and an active civil society. Investors, from home and abroad, applaud this stability which creates a sound investment climate. We can be proud of this record,” he said.
Mr Annan said the 2007 disastrous elections in Kenya which brought a huge setback to its economy, reputation and future should serve as an example to Ghanaians to ensure that the December 7 polls became peaceful.
“We must keep this experience in mind as we head to the polls. All Ghanaians – young and old, women and men- have a part to play in this democratic exercise. Whether as officials or journalists, policemen or judges, party members or voters, we must strive to ensure that these elections are respectful, transparent and peaceful,” he said.
In what he described as one of the most aggressive electoral contests in living memory, Mr Annan said although the 2012 presidential campaign in the United State had been tumultuous and hard fought, the civility with which Mitt Romney conceded defeat was an aspect that needed to be emulated.
“This willingness of the loser to accept defeat gracefully and the victor to show respect for the losing side is one of the hallmarks of a stable democracy,” he pointed out.
According to him, elections with integrity meant that electoral contests, both in their preparation and conduct, must be free and fair and not disfigured by politically motivated violence.
In a further attempt to explain his point, Mr. Annan observed that elections must be about ideas and personalities, not wallets, which held sway, stressing, “The State must ensure that campaign funding is both regulated and transparent to avoid the perception that votes can be bought or the result unduly influenced by the rich and powerful”.
According to him, elections with integrity conferred on the winner the legitimacy to govern, adding that losing candidates and their supporters must accept the result.
“But victory also comes with responsibility. The winner must safeguard the rights and well-being of his defeated opponents and supporters. He must avoid a winner takes all mentality that stores up resentment and risks later conflict,” he said.
Mr Annan said evidence gathered by a global commission of eminent individuals showed that elections conducted with integrity empowered women, encouraged the fight against corruption, ensured greater services to the poor, improved governance and helped to end violent conflict.
He, however, expressed worry that Africa in particular had suffered from flawed elections which had sometimes degenerated into violence and even civil war.
“While most countries today hold regular elections, many do not meet the criteria of elections with integrity. As a result, each election becomes a potential flashpoint rather than a moment of national debate, reflection and, ultimately, unity,” he added.
Source: Daily Graphic