The Chairman of the National Peace Council (NPC) has stated that the council remains unperturbed by incessant unsavoury comments and vile political colouration of its activities.
Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante said the attacks were often targeted to impugn the reputation of the council, especially its chairman, with unfounded political allegations aimed at creating disaffection among the populace.
He reminded the public that members of the council were men of high integrity and repute from their respective fields who could not be manipulated by any politician or political party.
Prof. Asante made the remarks at the eighth Annual Sandwich Conference organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
It was on the theme: “Paving the way for a peaceful, free and fair election 2020: The role of the State and non-State actors”.
Giving accounts of his personal ordeal as the council chairman, he revealed how some politicians in the two major political parties in Ghana had maligned him with verbal assaults and doubted his professionalism, neutrality and integrity as a Christian leader.
He cited several instances, including the 2012 Election, saying: “When it became clear that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was not going to accept the presidential result, the NPC quickly arranged a meeting with stakeholders and deliberated on the issue. We finally advised the NPP to go to court, and I (chairman) was verbally abused in the media for that decision.”
Prof. Asante appealed to politicians to stop politicising activities of the council and allow institutional governance structures to function effectively to give true meaning to democracy, freedom and justice.
In so doing, Prof. Asante recalled the mandate of the council as an independent statutory national peace institution established by Act 818 in 2011 with the core function to prevent, manage and resolve conflict and build sustainable peace.
Thus, any activity undertaken by the council must be derived from its mandate under Act 818.
That notwithstanding, the NPC chairman gave an assurance that the council was working to have a country characterised by a dynamic environment where people could engage in their lawful activities confident that the institutions, mechanisms and capacities for mediating differences and grievances were effective and responsive.
It was also facilitating the development mechanisms for cooperation among all relevant stakeholders in peacebuilding in Ghana by promoting problem-solving and institutionalising the processes of response to conflicts to produce outcomes that lead to conflict transformation, social, political and religious reconciliation and transformative dialogues.
Collective efforts needed
Touching on other issues, Prof. Asante called for collective efforts and stringent measures to nip the recent ravaging political violence, tension and thuggery associated with elections in the bud.
He noted that the phenomenon remained a scar on Ghana’s democratic dispensation, stifling development and derailing its international reputation as a beacon of peace.
The NPC chairman mentioned issues such as the “winner takes all” syndrome, the excessive politicisation of national issues and institutions such as the security agencies and the Electoral Commission (EC), as well as illegal mining and unemployment as pitfalls to national development that must be addressed with urgency.
For his part, Mr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), who took the audience through retrospection of Ghana’s electoral history, saluted political parties for the democratic gains regardless of the snags in electoral laws.
“Regardless of all the imperfections with political parties in Ghana, I wish to commend them for their good organisational acumen and continuous improvement in systems and structures. This has resulted in the high voter turnout in elections and maintained national peace and cohesion,” he added.