IDEG Commemorates International Day of Tolerance as part of the State of the Union (SOTU) Project
15 November 2011
In 2012, Ghana will be organizing its sixth consecutive Presidential and Parliamentary elections since the return to democratic rule under the Fourth Republic. Despite Ghana’s record of conducting successful elections, multi-party elections apart from being a contest for political power, have in recent times often brought about intimidation and violence never before witnessed in the politics of the country. Electioneering campaign has become synonymous to violence, leaving in its wake a lot of unresolved electoral disputes. Events prior to, during and after the 2008 elections such as arson attacks in Gushiegu, violence in Akwatia, the killing of supporters of both the NPP and NDC in the Agbogbloshie disturbances during the 2009 transitions are some of the notable incidents. This situation has largely contributed to the increasing culture of intolerance and impunity among supporters of political parties.
Furthermore, since the 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, political elites and party functionaries have resorted to negative practices such as mud-slinging at political opponents and use of unsavoury language on various platforms. Left unchecked these situations could further heighten intolerance in the larger society. While civil war would be the worse case scenario, failure to adequately address the growing culture of political intolerance and impunity would make such an outcome more likely.
Generally, intolerance comes about as a result of political, ethnic, historical, ideological differences among others. As a nation, Ghana has over the years demonstrated a degree of tolerance in the management of cyclical tensions associated with competitive multi-party elections within our multi-cultural society. While this is commendable, it is imperative to note that its sustenance requires conscious, targeted and inclusive efforts. In many African countries where elections have led to conflicts and political unrest, the lack of tolerance and failure to use existing mechanisms to address issues have been highlighted as contributory factors.
The need for measures that will promote tolerance and restore public confidence in traditional mechanisms for addressing conflicts therefore becomes vital for the overall stability of the country prior to, during and after the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.