COMMUNIQUE ON THE 8TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT HELD ON 25TH JULY, 2019 AT THE UNIVERSITY MAIN AUDITORIUM
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies has organised this year’s conference on the theme: Paving The Way For A Peaceful, Free And Fair Election 2020: The Role Of The State And Non-State Actors. This conference is organised once every sandwich semester to deliberate on current security issues and contribute to the discourse on peace and security worldwide and in Ghana to be specific. This year marks the 8th edition since the inception of this conference series. This 2019 conference is similar to the previous conferences which bring together practitioners, academics, researchers and relevant stakeholders in the field of peace and security.
Recognizing that peaceful elections are paramount in the development of every nation, concerted efforts from all sectors of society is required to achieve a secure and peaceful society in Ghana whiles contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals especially goal 16 (Peace, Justice and building strong institutions.
Accepting that elections are at the heart of democracy and therefore without elections democracy becomes empty and tracking the history of democratic elections in Ghana brings into focus the following essential points
The first fourth republican presidential election held on 3rd November, 1992 was fully participated by all the major political parties. However, the 29th December, 1992 parliamentary election was boycotted the opposition parties. This was followed by 1996 elections which witnessed the election of a significant number of candidates from opposition parties to parliament. Furthermore, the 2000 election was considered as one of the most free and fair elections Ghana has ever conducted.
The problems that confronted the 1992 elections led to the introduction of electoral reforms such as the use of transparent ballot boxes, voter IDs and voters register with pictures of voters, the formation of the inter-party advisory committee, etc.
The 2008 elections results were close and this generated tension but the loser accepted the outcome. In the case of the 2012 elections, the results were reviewed by the Supreme Court of Ghana which triggered further reforms such as publishing results at the polling station, etc. However, the 2016 election was peaceful but riddled with the phenomenon of vigilantism.
Acknowledging the crucial role of elections in the maintenance of peace and security of every nation and ultimately ensuring national development, the following issues were raised by participants in this year’s conference:
Peace, security and good governance is a collective responsibility, therefore there is the need for collaboration among academics, researchers, security agencies and other stakeholders in discussing this important topic to ensure a free and fair election in 2020.
The Electoral Commission should create the legal framework by drawing on its mandate as enshrined in the 1992 constitution to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in 2020.
The government must create the needed environment for both state and non-state actors to work for peaceful elections in 2020. This should include embarking on peace education, monitoring and controlling the media, especially social media.
The political system we practice, i.e. the winner takes all system which generates tension and conflict should be re-examined.
High voter turnouts during elections in Ghana is a reflection of the effective organisational abilities of our political parties.
Ghana has dropped in the 2019 global peace index implying that the country is not doing well in the global peace map.
The current challenges facing the political system is that political parties have become electoral machines, elections have been monetized and there is weak regulation of the activities of political parties. The low representation of women, election-related violence and the emergence of vigilantism are also challenges that ought to be dealt with.
There is undue politicisation of the security services should also be addressed.
Participants after the deliberations by speakers raised a number of questions including:
What is the NPC doing about political discrimination in Ghana?
How do we tackle the problem of lack of resources for electoral Institutions?
Why did take long for the NPC to make a statement about the Ayawaso West Wuogon incident?
How can the police service to devoid of politicisation?
How well is the National Peace Council funded?
What is the inter-linkages between the SDG and Ghana’s drop in the global peace index?
Having recognized the relevance of peaceful elections as a sine-qua-non for development speakers and participants at this year’s sandwich conference made the following recommendations:
Ghana enjoys a certain measure of peace and stability partly due to the way we conduct our elections, therefore these election management practices should be strengthened so that we will continue to enjoy peace and stability.
The appointment of party activists into the National Security system should be discontinued.
The media space should be monitored and controlled especially during the run-up to the elections.
State capture tendencies being exhibited these by religious leaders should closely be monitored and controlled.
State should collect illegal small arms in circulation in the country.
The security agencies should prepare adequately for the 2020 elections.
Encourage patriotism among the citizenry.
Eschew corruption in all segments of our national life e.g the security services.
DR. William Boateng