Home Opinion Featured Articles Can Ghana’s Democracy Endure the 2024 Elections?

Can Ghana’s Democracy Endure the 2024 Elections?

Will Ghana’s democracy stand the test of time in the 2024 elections? 

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Ghana Election
Ghana Election

Since Ghana’s independence on March 6, 1957, it has consistently held successful elections, a testament to its commitment to democracy and peace.

 

The country’s resilience against terrorism and violent extremism and its commendable religious tolerance have set it apart.

 

Ghana’s democracy, often lauded as one of the best in Africa and the world in general, has earned it the reputation of a beacon of peace in national and international spheres.

 

This is further underscored by its active role in peacekeeping efforts, both on the continent and globally, which is a source of pride and hope for all.

 

Ghana’s elections have generated national and international interests, mainly after gaining the accolade of being the gateway to Africa. Elections have become a significant event on the Ghanaian democratic calendar and directly relate to the essence of geopolitics in West Africa.

 

With elections and new government policies and agenda comes new iterations of geopolitical positioning, whether in the purview of the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, or Germany and the European Union. Thus, elections in Ghana today are not just the exclusive concern of Ghanaians but also the ECOWAS region.

 

In essence, the pacesetter role of Ghana has been upheld since the toppling of colonisation in the 1950s. In this regard, the Fourth Republican Constitution has seen elections in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020, with an impending one in December 2024.

 

The international implications of these elections cannot be overstated, as they contribute to shaping Ghana’s future and significantly impacting global geopolitics.

 

Given the global interest in the forthcoming elections, the international community and the African Continent will closely monitor the proceedings. However, some pressing concerns need to be addressed.

 

These include the activities of vigilante groups, which pose a threat to the democratic process; the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in critical regions, that could escalate into violence; and the frustration of the large population of unemployed youth, who constitute a significant portion of voters, and could lead to social unrest.

 

Also worth mentioning is the recurring issue of potential violence in the presidential and parliamentary elections, which could undermine the credibility of the democratic process.

 

These challenges highlight the need for immediate action to safeguard Ghana’s democracy and ensure a peaceful and fair poll in 2024.

 

For example, some lives were lost during the 2020 elections, when results were collated. It was also reported that about 15 electorates sustained various degrees of injury from sporadic shootings on the election day in areas such as Techiman, Odorkor, Ablekuma, and Tamale.

 

This phenomenon is becoming worrying and could derail the peace and security of the nation. These incidents have garnered global attention, leading to interest and expectations about the role of stakeholders in safeguarding the nation’s peace and security.

 

Further, the rapid advancement of digital technology and widespread usage of social media platforms, though they present an opportunity to enhancing the electoral process, also pose a threat to peace, integrity, and security.

 

Some of these threats are mis/disinformation, hate speech, sensational media reporting, mistrust in electoral processes and stakeholders, activities of political party vigilante groups, and false declaration of results by political party leaders.

 

There is the need to be concerned about election-related conflicts and initiate ways to prevent or resolve them amicably to propel national wellbeing and security.

 

The imminent election in December is unique. The flagbearers, former President John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), represent different religions – Christianity and Islam – and they can ensure religious harmony by their actions and the dynamics of their political activities.

 

Since they both hail from the northern regions of Ghana, which border the Sahel region, vulnerable to terrorists acts and violent extremism, this remains one of the most pressing peace and security concerns.

 

Regional security threats and activities of violent extremists in neighbouring countries posed security concerns to Ghana’s peace and there is the need to support the security agencies to prevent any spillover.

 

Apart from that internal factors such as ethnic and religious tensions and comments by some politicians also posed threats to the country’s peace and these must be approached with decorum to safeguard the peace.

 

 

 

Pre-empting and avoiding electoral violence

 

Election-related conflicts cannot be ruled out completely in the forthcoming elections in December, hence the need for amicable solutions to address it when it occurs.

 

The challenge is for most civil society organisations, private entities, households, corporate entities, the church, and relevant institutions to identify the causes of conflicts and analyse them for a suitable solution.

 

Election-related conflicts, when not dealt with, can spiral into violent clashes and be a conduit for armed groups to radicalise the youth, leading to terrorism and violent extremism.

 

Most of these conflicts have often been driven by issues such as alleged manipulation of election figures, vigilantism, silence of opinion leaders and religious elitists, refusal of the losing party to accept the results, and abuse of political power against other groups.

 

To prevent any predictable violence, Ghana must invoke its peace architecture. This must actively involve the engagement of churches, opinion leaders, traditional authorities, civil society groups, youth groups, citizens, and voters among other stakeholders. The entire country must be mobilised against any electoral violence.

 

The Supreme Court and Peaceful Electoral Petition

 

Critical to addressing electoral violence is the openness and willingness of the incumbent government to commit to endorsing the will of the people.

 

This includes faithfulness towards upholding the independence of the institutions of democracy. In 2012, the country experienced a historic event when the NPP petitioned the Supreme Court regarding the elections. The verdict was in favour of the NDC.

 

In 2020, the NDC petitioned the Supreme Court to have the election results canceled, citing irregularities, but the Court ruled in favour of the NPP.

 

Towards a progressive government, the will of the people

 

The common will of the people must prevail in any electoral dispensation through universal suffrage. Thus, any attempt to overturn the people’s will is a recipe for conflict and disaster, especially when there is a clear predictable outcome.

 

Conclusion

The machinery of democracy must meet the expectations of the citizens. And much more, the Government of the day must ensure that the will of the people is protected.

 

It is, therefore, essential to sensitise and educate the populace, especially the youth, on channeling their grievances through the appropriate channels to avoid violent clashes.

 

State institutions, especially the Electoral Commission, must be resourced to perform its role to the letter, especially engaging with the political parties in the Inter Party Advisory Committee to be on a level playing field, and ensuring that all logistics were in place during the registration and voting processes in order not to disenfranchise any voter.

 

Also, the National Peace Council should deal efficiently with conflicts when the need arises to prevent protraction, whereas the security agencies should share information regarding suspicious activities that tend to disrupt the electoral process.

 

In the end, we all have a role to play in ensuring the country’s peace and security and the integrity of the democratic process.

Long live Ghana and ling live Africa’s democracy.

 

(Dr Victor Kofi Afetorlom Doke is a Research Fellow with the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research, KAIPTC. Dr Ishmael Nii Dodoo is the Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of CO2 Africa Ltd, with over 25 years of experience in African human development practices).

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