Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The National Peace Summit

The National Peace Summit held last Friday to educate Ghanaians on the need to use dialogue instead of violence to resolve conflicts indeed gives cause for hope, given the anxiety as Ghanaians await the verdict of the Supreme Court in the 2012 election petition. On the 31st of this month, counsel for both the petitioners and respondents will be delivering their addresses to enable the nine member panel of the Supreme Court to come out with their final judgement. The Summit organised by the National Peace Council, Manhyia Palace, Civic Forum Initiative and the Institute of Democratic Governance was indeed refreshing having brought together, people of high repute and influence to make peace overtures.

Dominating the speeches was the need for Ghanaians to ensure that the pronouncement of the verdict unite them instead of divide them. Both former President Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor reiterated the need for political dialogue to facilitate the management of issues relating to the verdict and those that affect national cohesion and stability. It is understandable why a lot of anxiety has generated over the judgement of the election petition. This is the first time in the annals of the nation's politics that an electoral challenge of this magnitude is being dealt with openly. The doors of the judicial system were opened to the media for the first time and for 47 days running, Ghanaians followed the arguments with rapt attention vis-a-vis all the twists and turns. The question therefore lingering in the minds of every Ghanaian is whether the Supreme Court will overturn the results of the last elections or confirm the sitting President as the legitimate President of Ghana. Ghana has been an oasis of peace in a region that has seen some of the worst display of human behaviour in the past two decades. This enviable record needs not be tainted in any way. Some people are nevertheless skeptical about the success of the National Peace Summit given the fact that, a similar one held under the auspices of the Asantehene in Kumasi prior to the general election during which all stakeholders appended their signatures to uphold the results never materialised. It is regrettable key personalities to the election dispute were not at the Peace Summit to reassure the nation as to their commitment to peace no matter which direction the verdict goes. At any rate, it is good the youth groups of almost all the political parties were in attendance and together sang a patriotic song indicating their readiness to accept the verdict.

We need to commend the Supreme Court Justices for the way they have handled the case so far. The clamp down on contemptuous language has brought tints of sanity on the airwaves which are likely to impact on the post-election verdict. As we await the landmark decision it behoves all social commentators, party supporters, youth groups and the media to be circumspect and exhibit the highest sense of civility in order not to inflame passion before and after the verdict. Ghanaians owe it a responsibility to reaffirm their respect for the rule of law and due process. The nation's interest must supersede any individual interest. We agree the stakes are high in the election petition but that should not be the harbinger to tear the nation apart. Already the political arena is so polarised we cannot gamble with the nation's security. The spirit and letter of the National Peace Summit was most commendable but the question is, are we prepared to go by its outcome which is reconciliation? The 2012 election petition must not be a basis to spill a drop of blood. We need peace to develop this nation which is at the heart of the International Community. It is good both President Mahama and Nana Akufo Addo have pledged to accept the Supreme Court verdict no matter the direction it goes. The case indeed has dragged for quite too long affecting the country's investment drive. Ghana is for all of us and nobody has the divine right to rule the country, simpliciter. The personal interest of individuals cannot and should not override the collective. The Nation Commission for Civic Education, Information Services Department, the Political Parties and other social groups must intensify campaign to sensitize people to the need to accept the Supreme Court verdict without any qualms. There must and should not be any political upheaval after the Supreme Court has rolled out its decision, Ghana must move forward nothing more, nothing less.

BY: JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST.

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