In a few days, Ghanaians will be going to the polls and the world’s attention will be focused on Ghana, a country touted as a trailblazer when it comes to credible elections, progressive electoral system, and peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another.
Without a doubt, Ghana stands out as an encouraging success story across the African continent. Besides being the first nation in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence from a colonial power, the country has become the epitome of democracy and good governance in Africa following years of political upheavals.
This year’s election hasn’t seen much of the usual mammoth political rallies, fanfares around the country and very large gatherings by the various political parties to canvass for votes. This is mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Electoral Commission, mandated by law to conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda in Ghana has also announced steps it is taking to ensure public safety during the December 2020 elections.
In a joint communiqué earlier this week, the Canadian High Commission announced its partnership with the United Kingdom government and other international partners to deploy election observers across the country as part of its drive to support inclusive, safe and credible elections.
I had the privilege to be hosted by the Acting Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Sara Nicholls at the Canadian Official Residence. Top on the agenda was democracy, peaceful and inclusive elections.
According to the Acting High Commissioner, as impartial friends of Ghana, Canada is committed to seeing Ghana maintain its reputation as a leader on the African continent for holding peaceful, free and fair elections.
“We are proud to be joining our partners including the UK and the EU in deploying observers throughout Ghana on Election Day. This is a clear demonstration of our commitment to supporting the democratic system in the country. We are happy and honoured to participate in this election as we have done in previous years,” she added.
In addition to observation efforts, the Acting High Commissioner mentioned Canada’s determination to promote an inclusive, safe, transparent election and also highlighted their engagement with civil society organisations and key stakeholders to promote peace and trigger conversations on gender and other relevant issues.
“One of the things we are doing is to focus on young people to ensure they have access to factual information related to elections. We are encouraging the youth to consume and share only accurate, credible information online and offline, helping young, first-time voters make meaningful choices, and urging young people to promote peace. For example, we have partnered with the University of Ghana, who is producing some exciting and engaging videos on media literacy,” she added.
In addition, the Canadian High Commission is working with the Alliance for Women in Media Africa to support and encourage female reporters on safe, gender-sensitive, ethical election reporting. The High Commission is providing the female reporters with some tools they will need to enable them to carry out their duties effectively, such as notebooks, pens, flashlights and masks.
Whilst encouraging Ghanaians eligible to vote to go out to exercise their civic right, the Acting High Commissioner urged people not to engage in acts that could endanger the peace and stability of Ghana before, during and after the elections.
She indicated that: “Ghanaians will make their interests known through their ballot and I hope all eligible voters get out on voting day. Pleased to engage with the West African Network for Peace building, the National Peace Council and other organisations on this, as we collectively maintain the need for peace.”
On pockets of violence witnessed recently in the Odododiodoo constituency and in some flash points, Acting High Commissioner Sara Nicholls supports the renewed call for the ban on political vigilante groups.
“Clear messages and direction from leadership of the political parties on the need to embrace peace and democratic processes instead of violence have an important impact. In our modern day democracy, vigilante groups and violence do not have a place,” she stressed.
Acting High Commissioner Sara Nicholls wishes all Ghanaians well and is confident Ghana’s Election 2020 will be peaceful, free and fair.