The outgoing Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), Rt. Rev Professor Emmanuel Martey, has advised the Electoral Commission (EC) to “tread cautiously on all matters relating to this year’s general election.”
Whiles acknowledging the efforts of government, the EC, political parties and Ghanaians in general to advance the cause of democracy through transparent, free and fair elections in the December 7 elections, he still thinks the EC must do well to clear any doubts about its activities.
“As the 2016 elections draw closer, it may be helpful to remember how close the nation came to disaster after the 2012 elections and to recognize that peace has to be engineered on all fronts. We must note that since elections are fundamental building blocks of democracy, free and fair elections are central to the legitimacy of democratic governance. We therefore wish to advise the EC to perform to the satisfaction of all stakeholders,” he cautioned.
He underscored, “We cannot ignore the numerous hiccups that cast doubtful clouds over the EC’s performance during the past several months in relation to the production of a credible voters’ register. We only hope that the Commission would live up to its responsibility as a transparent, accountable and credible institution.”
The outspoken Moderator also expressed concern about the unsavoury partisan nature of political discourse in the country, underscored by intemperate and abusive language, tinged with character assassination. He advised, “We should not forget that we have a common destiny and need to be wary of what we say to and about one another.
“We appeal to all political parties to refrain from the culture of insults, and avoid contemptuous and provocative pronouncements that tend to breed bitterness and resentment. As the nation approaches this year’s elections, the General Assembly appeals to all Ghanaians to allow peace, tolerance and understanding to prevail in all our discussions and actions.”
The reason, he said, is because “it is conceivable that the period preceding these elections would see a lot of tension.”
The man of God said, “If citizens see themselves as people with a common destiny, but with diverse reasoning, tolerance will prevail.”
Considering the fact that the media can affect the society negatively or positively, he advised the various media houses to be circumspect in the manner they handle public discourse.
“General Assembly notes with concern that some sections of the media have overtime, promoted insults and ethnic sentiments. This is not what the populace desires or craves for. Hence, if media reportage highlights differences that bring disaffection and ridicule, the society would be the worse for it, since negative news affects people’s optimism and well-being,” he emphasised.
He thus, appealed to media owners and leaders who are expected to be gate-keepers to live up to expectation and act well to eliminate negative, insensitive and biased reportage that do not promote the positive development of society, whiles asking the umbrella associations and commissions to act promptly to protect the interest of the general public.