Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, Chairman of the National Peace Council (NPC), has stated that the Council remained unperturbed by incessant unsavoury comments and vile political colouration of its activities.
He said the attacks were often targeted to impugn the reputation of the Council especially the Chairman, with unfounded political allegations aimed at creating disaffection among the populace.
He reminded the public that members of the Council were men of high integrity and repute from their respective fields and not puddles to be manipulated by any politician or political party.
Prof Asante made the remarks at the eighth Annual Sandwich Conference organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
It was on the theme: “Paving the way for a peaceful, free and fair election 2020: The role of the state and non-state actors”.
Giving accounts of his personal ordeals as the Council Chair, he revealed how some politicians in the two major political parties in Ghana had maligned him with verbal assaults and doubted his professionalism, neutrality and integrity as a Christian leader.
He cited several instances including the election 2012 saying “when it became clear that the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was not going to accept the Presidential result, the NPC quickly arranged a meeting with stakeholders and deliberated on the issue. We finally advised the NPP to go to court and I (Chairman) was verbally abused in the media for that decision.”
Prof Asante appealed to politicians to stop politicising activities of the Council and allow institutional governance structures to function effectively to give true meaning to democracy, freedom and justice.
In so doing, he recalled the mandate of the Council as an independent statutory national peace institution established by Act (818) in 2011 with the core function to prevent, manage and resolve conflict and to build sustainable peace.
Thus, any activity undertaken by the Council must be derived from its mandate under Act 818.
That notwithstanding, the NPC Chairman assured that the Council was working to have a country characterised by dynamic environment where people could engage in their lawful activities confident that the institutions, mechanisms, and capacities for mediating differences and grievances were effective and responsive.
It was also facilitating the development mechanisms for cooperation among all relevant stakeholders in peace building in Ghana by promoting problem solving and institutionalising the processes of response to conflicts to produce outcomes that led to conflict transformation, social, political and religious reconciliation and transformative dialogues.
Touching on other issues, he called for collective efforts and stringent measures to nib the recent ravaging political violence, tension and thuggery associated with elections.
He noted that the phenomenon remains a scar on Ghana’s democratic dispensation, stifling development and derailing its international reputation as beacon of peace.
The NPC Chairman mentioned issues such as “winner takes all,” excessive politicisation of national issues, security agencies, Electoral Commission, illegal mining and unemployment as pitfalls to national development that must be addressed with urgency.
For his part, Mr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), who took the audience through retrospection of Ghana’s electoral history, saluted political parties for the democratic gains regardless of the snags in electoral laws.
“Regardless of all the imperfections with political parties in Ghana, I wish to commend them for their good organisational acumen and continuous improvement in systems and structures. This has resulted in the high voters’ turnout in elections and maintained national peace and cohesion,” he added.