Ghana’s 2020 election is fast approaching. In Africa, Ghana has been touted as a model of democracy and good governance. Since 1992, the country has a record of seven successive relatively peaceful elections that have culminated into three successful transfers of power from one party to another in 2001, 2009 and 2017.
Despite these positive credentials, there is the issue of electoral violence that reoccurs every election period with the use of light weapons during the electioneering periods.
With funding from the German Government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ghana National Commission for Small Arms and Light Weapons embarked on a peace sensitization outreach in 5 constituencies, under its “BallotswithoutBullets” campaign, to engage and educate the youth of political parties and community members on the need to prevent armed violence before, during, and after the elections. The sensitizations aim to promote positive behavioral change towards peaceful co-existence in Ghana.
The outreach was conducted in areas that have consistently recorded incidence of violence during elections in Ghana including Sekyere Afram Plains, Cheriponi, Tain, Lower Manya Krobo and Odododiodio.
Speaking at the outreach in the Lower Manya Krobo constituency in the Eastern Region, Ms. Melody Azinim, Peace Analyst at UNDP Ghana underscored the need to ensure peace to accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She also emphasized the critical role young people can play in creating and maintaining peace before, during and after the elections, and encouraged the youth to put Ghana first.
“Young people have a critical role to play in raising awareness and developing strategies to reduce threats from small arms and light weapons. Let’s join hands to promote the disarmament of political vigilante groups to ensure a peaceful election in Ghana on December 7th”, she urged.
The Ghana National Commission for Small Arms and Light Weapons revealed that the use of small arms weapons in Ghana has increased from 240 thousand in 2004 to 2.3 million in 2014, killing averagely 1000 people a day.
Dominic Offei, Programme Officer at the Commission encouraged participants at the Odododiodoo constituency to desist from using small arms and weapons especially during the elections as this can disrupt the peace of Ghana.
“As Ghana prepares for elections 2020, let us remember that election is about the counting of ballots and not cutting off heads, it is about using our thump and not the trigger. Let’s uphold peace everywhere”, he advised.
The Ashanti Regional Executive Secretary of the Peace Council, Rev. Emmanuel Badu Amoah also cautioned participants in Sekyere Afram Plains constituency to put aside their political affiliations and come together as one to uphold the peace Ghana has been enjoying.
At the end of the session in each constituency, representatives from each political party signed a peace treaty and pledged to spread the message of peace through a peace walk, screening of peace movies and holding of peace marches in their various constituencies.
“We are thankful for this timely reminder. Indeed, we have only one Ghana, we will spread this message and encourage everyone to desist from insults filled campaign as Ghana heads to the polls in order to avoid violence”, Francis Goodluck, a participant in the Sekyere Afram Plains expressed.
The sensitization exercise gathered over 600 participants from the 5 constituencies.