Participants in a National Summit on Justice, Peace and Reforms have called on the parties litigating over the 2012 presidential election results to prevail on their members and supporters to respect the final verdict of the Supreme Court.
They also asked the leaders of the political parties to pursue all subsequent grievances through peaceful processes, as well as intensify civic education among their members, such that their awareness of and respect for the rule of law would be strengthened and their commitment to peaceful ways of resolving conflict reinforced.
This was contained in the Accra Declaration made at the end of the summit at the State House in Accra yesterday.
The summit was convened by the National Peace Council, the National House of Chiefs, the Manhyia Palace, the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) and the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG).
After the declaration of the results of the 2012 presidential election, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, filed a writ at the Supreme Court challenging the declaration of President John Mahama as the winner of the poll.
The court completed the hearing of the matter last Tuesday and fixed July 30, 2013 as the date for the presentation of addresses by the petitioners and the respondents in the matter.
However, before the delivery of the final verdict, fears have been raised about the outcome of the court’s decision.
It was in that vein that the National Summit was convened to get the commitment all Ghanaians, especially the key stakeholders, to resolve to uphold and preserve the peace the country is enjoying after the final verdict.
The Accra Declaration, among other things, appealed to the “political parties to rise above their partisan interests in order to advance the common interest of the nation through constructive and proactive democratic dialogue”.
It encouraged the two major political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the NPP — to take immediate steps to improve their relationship in the overall interest of the nation by increasing confidence, trust and communication among their members at all levels.
It called on leaders of the nation to courageously pursue comprehensive reforms that would transform the democratic governance system and enhance inclusive governance in the country and advised “the major stakeholders of the media to take immediate steps to practise media freedom with responsibility and accountability in furtherance of peace, national cohesion and accountable governance of the country”.
When he mounted the podium, former President Jerry John Rawlings charged the Supreme Court to deliver a ruling that would inspire the confidence of both the winners and the losers.
That, he said, was to strengthen and protect the country’s political process, national cohesion and self-belief.
“Justice is, perhaps, one of the most essential and intrinsic contributions to the internal equilibrium of the soul. There are serious battles ahead of us — corruption, economic battles, the burning down of our markets and crime. Let us get this one out of the way and take on the others,” he said.
Former President Rawlings said political, traditional and opinion leaders and, indeed, every Ghanaian had a part to play in ensuring peace and unity for the country, adding, “Let us not relegate the responsibility to a select few.”
For his part, former President John Agyekum Kufuor, in an address read on his behalf, asked Ghanaians to pray for the Justices of the Supreme Court to have the clarity of mind and vision to be bold and fearless in the discharge of their duties which destiny had called upon them to discharge.
According to him, it was assuring that both sides to the election petition had pledged to abide by the court’s ruling, whether or not it was in their favour.
“The whole world is watching and they must be true to their word. More importantly, I urge them to carry their numerous supporters along with them in the same vehicle in accepting the verdict of the court,” he said.
President Kufuor urged the media to be responsible to their duties as watchdogs of society.
National Peace Council
The Chairman of the National Peace Council, the Most Rev Professor Emmanuel Asante, expressed the hope that Ghana would remain the same after the verdict because Ghanaians were committed to the act of peace.
He believed that to jaw-jaw was better than to war-war, adding, “Let’s say no to violence and embrace peace because jaw-jaw is better than war-war.”
National House of Chiefs
The President of the National House of Chiefs, Naa Prof John S. Nabila, said chiefs had an important role to play in ensuring peace because “we stand for peace”.
“We chiefs are happy to be here to take part in this forum. We are going to up the message and talk to our people and say no to violence,” he said.
Other panellists emphasised the need for the country to protect the peace it was enjoying.
They argued that any acts of violence after the verdict could adversely affect national development efforts.
The panellists included Bishop James Saah, a Senior Bishop of the Christian Action Faith Ministries; the Most Rev Charles Palmer-Buckle, the Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of the Accra; Dr Mubarak Osei-Kwasi of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission; Mr Sam Okudzeto, a former President of the Ghana Bar Association; Mr Kofi Asamoah, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and Mrs Mawuena Trebah, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).
For his part, the Director General in charge of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr David Ampah Bennin, who represented the Inspector-General of Police, said although the police were not anticipating violence after the court verdict, they were not going to take chances at all, stressing that strategies had been put in place to deal with any excesses.
Media panellists, comprising the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Affail Monney; the Chairperson of the Editors Forum, Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, and the President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Chief P.A. Crystal-Djirackor, called on members of the media to be responsible in their reportage and the programmes they aired.
While the GIBA, for instance, asked members to abide by its Code of Ethics, the GJA said it would spread the gospel of peace.
The Moderator of the summit, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, said in the course of preparing for the event, the organisers had met President John Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo, who pledged their commitment to peace.
“Our leaders are truly committed to what they said,” he indicated, and said it was important that Ghanaians were educated on preserving the peace of the country after the final verdict.
By Emmanuel Bonney, State House
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