The West African Network for Peace Building (WANEP) and the National Peace Council (NPC), have launched the National Election Response Group (NERG) ahead of the 2020 General Elections.
NERG comprises of representatives from various institutions including WANEP, NPC, Electoral Commission (EC), National Commission for Civic Education, Star-Ghana, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Journalists Association, Ministry of Interior, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).
Its primary objective is to discuss, develop, and recommend response strategies to violent threats to the December 7 general elections in Ghana.
As a response platform, the decisions of NERG would be supported by analysis and reports of election threats through the WANEP National Early Warning System.
NERG is a key component of a broader project titled “Electoral Violence Monitoring, Analysis and Mitigation (EMAM) in 11 countries- Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Guinea and Togo.
It is funded by the European Union with additional support from the governments of Austria and Sweden, and implemented in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).
Mr Henry Quartey, Deputy Minister, National Security, who officially launched the Group, encouraged every citizen and institution to remain committed to Ghana’s quest to sustain its well-earned credentials of holding transparent, inclusive, credible and peaceful elections.
He said NERG would create the opportunity for an inclusive and locally owned election dispute management system for proactive response to mitigate electoral violence threats and stabilize political transitions with this electoral cycle.
Mr Quartey urged all stakeholders to uphold the effort of peace building adding that, “for it is only in an environment of peace that Ghana can continue to consolidate the economic gains it has achieved in recent years and improve on the lives of the people”.
Dr Chukwuemeka B. Eze, the Executive Director of WANEP, said given the multifaceted nature of the challenges and threats to electoral processes, there was a need for the adoption of multi-dimensional approaches requiring the concertation of multiple stakeholders to effectively counter the constellation of peace and security threats.
He said, however, with the lack of multi-stakeholder platforms that allowed for dialogue and sustainable consensus-building among political actors and their constituencies, these dynamics continued to keep peace and security actors on edge throughout electoral periods.
“It is against this backdrop that WANEP designed the EMAM project as a multi-dimensional initiative, to contribute to a reduction in electoral violence in West Africa by strengthening national and regional capabilities for peaceful electoral processes”, he added.
Rev. Professor Emmanuel Asante, the Board Chair, NPC also underscored the need for a monitoring team that would not only sit back and monitor, but ensure threats were responded to.
He emphasized that elections were sometimes characterized by violence, leaving people to sit on the edge, as such, this initiative seeks to forestall any unforeseen circumstances that plunge the country into violence.
Mr Michael Boadu, the Director of Training at EC, reiterated the Commission’s commitment to deliver free, fair and peaceful elections in Ghana; to be transparent and also maintain its neutrality and integrity in its operations.
He said despite Ghana’s enviable democratic credentials there had been records of violence during elections and this called for greater attention of prevention of violence, saying, all stakeholders should exhibit a great sense of commitment to peace, neutrality, fairness and tolerance.