From Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
The Catholic Bishop of Sunyani, the Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, has urged winners in the December 7 polls to exercise restraint while celebrating their victory.
He said they should also commit themselves to the general good of all Ghanaians and not the parochial interest of their party and its members, and also avoid the attitude of the winner-takes-all.
“Likewise, losers should be gracious in accepting the outcome of the elections, trust in the prevailing democratic culture and collaborate with the victorious party for the good of the people,” he admonished.
Speaking at a public lecture organised by the Sunyani Polytechnic in the Brong Ahafo Region on the topic “Sustaining Ghana’s Democracy Now and Beyond” last Thursday, Most Rev. Gyamfi noted that for peace to be achieved during and after the elections, the electorate should know that their views did not necessarily represent others’ and that they were also entitled to their own opinions.
Most Rev. Gyamfi said whatever the results were, voters must be satisfied that they had done their duty of voting for those whom they thought would deliver the goods.
He said in elections, there was neither a victor nor a loser, since elections only indicated the degree of support for one opinion over another and, therefore, candidates should not try to get into power by all means.
The Catholic Bishop of Sunyani further exhorted defeated candidates in the polls not to feel humiliated, but should only accept that more people accepted the opposite views than those who saw their view points and there should be co-operation at the end of it all.
Most Rev. Gyamfi advised against any pronouncements and actions that did not promote peace, but rather create fear, rancour, bitterness and resentment.
He also bemoaned certain behaviours and utterances of some candidates that suggested that if they did not win power, then the winning party has rigged the election, threatening mayhem after the elections.
“The recent cases of Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, just to name a few, where elections, instead of resulting in the peace that they were meant for, had wreaked one havoc after another, which can only be described as catastrophic,” he stressed.
Most Rev. Gyamfi, therefore, advised Ghanaians to ensure that the forthcoming elections unite us as one people and bring the needed peace the nation desired for.
The Catholic Bishop of Sunyani, in his submissions, declared that “the 2008 elections will be a peaceful one, contrary to the fears and anxieties of a section of the Ghanaian people. Given the charged political atmosphere, however, all Ghanaians need to desire peace and work hard to make this peace a reality and support the work of peace with prayers”.
The Rector of the Sunyani Polytechnic, Prof. Kwasi Nsiah-Gyabaah, noted that “Ghana and Ghanaians cannot afford to forgo the peace, unity and tolerance that have projected the country’s democracy into a shinning example and often quoted as a successful example of smooth and peaceful political change in Africa”.
Prof. Nsiah-Gyabaah said this informed the organisation of the lecture to sensitise the general public to the importance of peace, before during and after the general election, and to be able to sustain the peace and stability that the country had so far enjoyed over the last two decades.
Representatives of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) who also took turns to speak at the lecture, pledged their commitment to ensure peace before, during and after the general elections.
The Omanhene of Techiman Traditional Area, Oseedeyo Akumfi Ameyaw IV, who chaired the function, called on political leaders to focus on issues that will uplift the country in the run-up to the general election in order to defuse the political tensions that might lead to violence and destruction of property.