Kofi Annan says democracy is the bloodline of economic development

Former United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, says integrity of elections holds prospects for rapid economic growth and prosperity and urged political actors to uphold democratic tenets that fostered a peaceful society.

Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan

He said preserving and deepening democratic credentials were crucial for the country’s future prosperity and peace to guarantee fundamental human aspiration that allowed citizens to live as free men and women.

Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
“In fact, evidence suggests that by and large democracy is conducive to economic development,” Mr Annan said.

The Former UN Chief was speaking at the 12th ‘Kronti ne Akwamu’ Lecture organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) on the topic: “Credible and Peaceful Elections: Prerequisite for Africa’s Progress.”

He said: “Politics is too important to be left to the politicians alone,” and ask for the full involvement of the society to work towards deepening the country’s democratic ideals.

“Democracy is never fully achieved, it is always work in progress, it is up to you and the next generation; the young men and women, to work towards deepening and sustaining the democratic ideal,” Mr Annan said.

Ghana has undergone several successful democratic transitions to earn the accolade ‘model of democracy in Africa,’ he said, and urged institutions concerned to work harder to ensure continuous peaceful polls.

“Ghana has thrived under democracy since it was reintroduced and our society as well as our economy has thrived as a result.

“We must never stop reminding ourselves of that fact, yes, our country has its problems but all countries have problems,” Mr Annan said.

Mr Annan noted that democracies often tended to look worse than they were because media and civil society magnified the problems whereas dictatorships suppressed information about problems.

“In the long run, however, criticism and public debate should lead to reforms which makes democracies resilient while dictatorships are fundamentally brittle.” he said.

Mr Annan said: “Today, almost every leader claims to govern by democratic principles and organises periodic elections most of which are open and fair.

“But there are many leaders who manipulate the system to make sure they win.

“In other words rather than impose their rule through brute force, these leaders are tempted to subvert the legal and democratic framework.

“It is rule by law rather than rule of law, regimes have developed a multitude of methods, some more subtle than others, to ensure that level playing fields are limited to sports competitions only.

“This may work in the short run, but it is a dangerous strategy in the long run, for democracies without credible elections are no democracies at all.”

Mr Annan said greater efforts were needed to build institutions, processes, and behaviours that were vital for genuine multi-party competition and the attribution of political power.

The move, he said, would bestow legitimacy on the winner, provide security for losers, and end the winner-takes-all politics syndrome.

He said the integrity of elections required political equality and called for the removal of barriers that prevented voting and wider participation in political life.

“Too often, women, young people, minorities and other marginalised groups are not given a full opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.

“Unregulated money in politics undermines voters’ faith in elections and confidence in democracy.

“Vote buying and bribery by candidates, organised crime, have to be prevented,” he said.

Mr Annan called for strengthening the rule of law to protect the rights of voters and candidates and boost capacity of professional and independent bodies to manage credible elections and make results legitimate.

Source: GNA/NewsGhana.com.gh

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