General News of Wednesday, 7 September 2016
A security analyst at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC), Dr Kwasi Aning, has said persons who instigate and perpetuate violence before, during, and after the elections should be hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for trial.
Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) has warned that the current political environment is hostile, a situation which the election management body described as a recipe for violence in this year’s presidential and parliamentary polls.
Last month, findings of an international delegation made up of representatives of the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute revealed after an assessment that there is an increasingly polarised political environment and heightened tensions ahead of the general elections in December.
Speaking to Class News’ Atiewin Mbillah Lawson in an exclusive interview, Dr Aning condemned the practice where he said persons who seem to make the loudest noise are appointed to high office and agreed with the EC that the political environment was indeed hostile ahead of the election.
“The things that contribute to hostilities are all around us: small arms, unemployment, insightful rhetoric from the political class, the deliberate abuse and undermining of state institutions that are playing a critical role in ensuring peace and stability. So yes, the environment is very hostile,” he stated.
“The rhetoric towards fixing the situation is good but the sort of practical interventions that we need can be much better. The EC itself has been abused and criticised over time, but this is a crucial [and] critical institution… I think what we need is a concerted national effort that says the choices for us, were we to collapse, are extremely dangerous so all of us must find one way or the other of contributing our small share to ensure that the elections are peaceful and we can continue to live in a stable Ghana,” Dr Annin added.
According to the security expert, although tensions are high, there will be peace after the election.
“I don’t lose sleep about Election 2016 because I think we have spoken enough about it, we have identified the crisis. We know we don’t have any choices. We can’t speak French, we can’t swim, the Europeans won’t give us asylum. So, the only place we have is that we can build a resilient society, a resilient country with strong institutions that can contribute to peace, stability, and development. We don’t have choices. The only choice we have is Ghana and I think by 9th December, we will all be back at our work places, we will be back to being old friends, and we will just continue to move on,” the security analyst added.
Touching on hate speech, Dr Annin noted: “The more violent rhetoric a politician uses, the higher propensity that person may get a Cabinet post. If you look at the 2012 book that we wrote, you’ll see the people who have been appointed DCEs, MCEs, and to Cabinet positions and what they said before those elections. You would have thought these guys can’t come close… No party manifesto talks about violence, and if politics is about shared norms, shared values, and shared principles, what is it that prevents parties from disciplining those whose behaviour does not reflect those shared norms and those shared values? So yes, the party’s political structures have failed, the individuals who have joined the parties and are misbehaving have failed, those of us who find the speech as attractive have failed, and certainly those of us who create a platform for spreading and multiplying the hate speech have also failed.”
In response to what should be done to those who incite violence, Dr Aning said: “The parties must use their rules and if those who incite violence actually lead to the perpetration of violence, then we will take them to the ICC. There is a framework for atrocity prevention of which Ghana is a member of that framework, and I think this is something that as civil society we’ve got to let the political societies know. Based on the quotations of inciting people to murder and to kill and to declare jihad, if there is any violence we can use that as a basis [to charge them] for inciting violence and committing atrocities.”