Steven Blessing Ackah Convener of Transform Ghana Peace Project aims to ensure security and awareness during the 2016 Election process. Read more to find out the details about why security is so important to lasting peace in Ghana.
BUILDING CAPACITY OF PEACE AND SECURITY
Elections play a significant role in peace processes since they are widely considered to be the main method of achieving a peaceful resolution to political controversies. Election processes can contribute to peace, but can also provide an access point for violence and conflicts because of the competitive patterns implanted in the winner-loser dichotomy.
“Peace is not a common good”. It’s not everyone who wants peace. When there are conflicts or crises, people benefit from it. “Almost 3/4 of the Presidents and Heads of State in our sub-regions have benefitted from Political Instability”
HOW DO WE BUILD CAPACITY FOR PEACE?
That is why the Transform Ghana Peace Project-CFAN have provided this report based on our several consultative forums held towards Election 2016 throughout the country. It is our collective responsibility and duty to ensure that our own behaviours create an enabling environment that allows the candidates themselves and the party agents to optimally do their work in ensuring free and fair elections.
VOTER SECURITY AND THE SECURITY OF ELECTION OFFICIALS
In our consultative forums organised throughout the major cities in Ghana, we have been looking at two crucial aspects of building security towards Election 2016. They include Voter Security and the Security of the election officials.
Voter security, which relates to the protection of the computers, biometric equipment, the communications systems that will be used to transmit data, the communications both used during the registration and the tabulation. We’ve got to ensure that there is no iota of doubt about the sanctity and professionalism with which the data is gathered, collected and then sent to the strong room in Accra. This is a very important process in the election decision because acceptance of el ection results by the losing candidates and parties is a crucial issue in the context of voter security. Adequate voter security will mean that the voting process has paved way for a widely accepted outcome of legitimate results.
Research has shown in politics that, in Politics of West Africa, the youth will consistently be used, abused and dumped after an election.
Our focus on the security of the election officials was on what we expected of the official uniformed securities. What do we expect from the Police, the Fire Service, Immigration, Ceps and all those people who on that day will wear the uniform? Do we have 100% of the security men and women that they need to patrol the polling stations?
The basis for mitigating every single polling station as potentially volatile is to have the security of the election officials well equipped. What this means is that, the uniformed officers will have to play an extraordinarily important role come this election. This election is important because the two big men from both NDC and NPP will not run again as we all know, and looking at the way in which access to the public office can transform lives, both parties will do everything possible to retain and attain the seat.
In our major Consultative forum organised in April on building capacity of security, Dr. Kwesi Anning from Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Centre elaborated on what the public should expect from the uniformed securities. Below are what we have pinpointed according to Dr. Anning:
We expect the security officials to provide the security that allows voters to go about their business without anyone intruding on them.
We expect the Security Officials to provide the protection for the campaigns of Political parties. It’s unfortunate there is so much distrust and mistrust in our politics. This seem to be real in our Ghanaian politics, that is why the Inspector General of Ghana Police has ordered Presidential Candidates to choose 4 officers that they trust. We’ve got to find a way of bringing trust into our politics in Ghana.
Generally on the day of Elections, we believe when these types of security are provided, there will be less violent conflicts in Ghana.
1. The static forces who will be based where the voting is actually taking place.
2. The mobile forces who will be patrolling and running around and will respond as quickly as possible to those who want to cause mayhem. So they will be on vehicles, they will be on horsebacks, they will be on motor cycles, they will be on bicycles, so that if you think you can cause mayhem and go into the corners of James Town or any hidden place, they will catch you and deal with you.
3. The standby forces such as police officers will be the first responders, but precisely because violence has a way of tipping over and beginning to have an infectious side to it, it’s important that immediately if there are any suspicions that people want to misbehave, that stupidity is crushed decisively. No citizen in Ghana intends to go into exile because some politicians want to be in power. No! Them and their supporters will have to be dealt with decisively. To that extent, we commend the security for establishing the National Election Security Task Force.
In our quest to identify some of the limitations of the uniformed forces, there are 11 things they cannot do and if they do YOU can report and challenge them.
They cannot accept gifts from any voter. Even when they are starving and they don’t have water, it’s not a voter’s responsibility, it’s the responsibility of their service to provide them with food and water.
They are not supposed to show or claim any favours or gratitude to anybody.
They must be neutral in the delivery and performance of the work that they do.
They should not take part in the actual administration of the election itself.
They cannot be seen carrying the ballot boxes, repositioning it, or telling people to queue properly – that is not their job.
Their job is to ensure if for example, Kojo has come late and wants to jump the line twenty people ahead and there is a little misunderstanding, they should deal with that misunderstanding.
They are not supposed to be checking our ID cards also that is not their job.
They are basically to en sure that the ballot boxes are not stuffed.
They should ensure the security of the ballot boxes.
Even when there are crises, they should only use minimum force. So although a few of them will be armed with live bullets, its under extreme circumstances that they will have to use it. But we are hoping that it does not come to that.
They can not leave the polling stations during the actual voting.
During our 2nd consultative forum, Mr. George Amoh, from the National Peace Council, challenged members of the civil society on the need to ensure peace. Because we have a responsibility, the responsibility to ensure that the elections are successful, does not only apply to the uniform forces, does not only apply to the judiciary, or the electoral commission. Every effort towards maintaining peace in Ghana provides a unique opportunity to ensure sustainability of our democracy. Let’s support the movement of repetitious stable democracy in Ghana.
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