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Election is not war, Obasanjo tells Akufo-Addo, Mahama

Olusegun Obasanjo, a former President of Nigeria, appeals to Ghana’s two main political leaders, Akufo-Addo and John Mahama, to demonstrate statesmanship ahead of 7 December

Story Highlights
  • “I would like to underscore that disagreement, frustrations, accusations, and counter-accusations are common attributes in politics and especially in electoral processes. While Ghana is no exception in this regard, the Ghanaian political class has often demonstrated an admirably high level of political maturity."

Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has reminded the two main political protagonists in Ghana – Nana Akufo-Addo and John Mahama – to ensure the 7 December elections end peacefully.

According to him, election is just competition and should not be grounds to shed blood.

“As the preparation for the 7 December 2020 general elections continue, we must be reminded of the importance of preserving the unity, peace, and stability of the country which has been bequeathed to you by those before you including our late brother,” OBJ, as he is affectionately called, said in a letter to the duo.

Ghana heads to the poll on 7 December to elect new president and MPs. The presidential race is a straight fight between incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo and current opposition leader, John Dramani Mahama.

“I write to you, leaders of the two main political parties in Ghana, to urge you to do all you can to ensure peaceful conduct of the general elections. My concern about the elections in Ghana is not only as an African, but also because of our shared colonial history, our anthropological background, and the fact that I began my military career from Teshie, Ghana, and without that, I would perhaps have been what I am today.

“As leaders of the two main political leaders, this is the legacy you have been entrusted to preserve heading into elections. Your role is unique in that the NPP and the NDC are the main players, have made significant contributions to the peace and stability of Ghana, and are vested with the capacity, influence, and control to constructively shape national discussions and processes such as the upcoming elections.

“In this vein, the success or failure of the elections, a key aspect of democratic consolidation in Ghana will largely depend on the posture of the NPP and NDC leadership and how that manifested by the actions of their supporters,” Obasanjo said.

Political maturity

He added: “I would like to underscore that disagreement, frustrations, accusations, and counter-accusations are common attributes in politics and especially in electoral processes. While Ghana is no exception in this regard, the Ghanaian political class has often demonstrated an admirably high level of political maturity in handling their differences and ensuring that elections remain issues-based. The call from Ghanaians and the region as a whole is for this to be the case in the 2020 general elections.

“However, for this to happen, the NPP and NDC must enhance efforts to build mutual trust and confidence among themselves, in the relevant national institutions and in the electoral process. The NPP and NDC must ensure that the message of pe is not only delivered in closed-door settings but amplified to the extent that they are received and adhere to by their supporters at the community level. The NPP and NDC must constructively engage with all national institutions to identify, address of mitigating any potential threats to the smooth organization of the electoral process.

“The NPP and NDC are opponents and not enemies in this process. They are both indispensables beyond the elections to preserve peace and stability in Ghana. That is why amid the tensions and disagreements, they must desist from language that incites violence and hate while reinforcing the messages of peace and togetherness.

“Therefore, I implore you to approach these elections with a very competitive spirit but also with respect for one another, respect for democratic values, love for the country, and a sense of responsibility to preserve the gains Ghana has made since the advent of democracy. Let me also take this opportunity to make a special appeal to the Presidential candidates of the two main parties who are both my brothers to demonstrate the statesmanship that they are known for throughout the election process.

“My prayer for you and the country is that Ghana should emerge the winner irrespective of which party wins. Through my most humble voice, the region and the continent count on your sense of patriotism and guided by the aspirations of all Ghanaians who would want to see Ghana live up to its ideals by organizing elections that are peaceful, credible and transparent”.

Ghana has remained peaceful under its long-running democracy since 1992. The 2020 polls will be its eighth under the Fourth Republic.

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