CUSTODIANS OF PEACE AND UNITY: THE CHIEFTAINCY INSTITUTION AND THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTIONS
With the eighth consecutive elections in Ghana scheduled to take place on 7th December, 2020, there are expectations from the government, political parties, relevant stakeholders including traditional authorities, civil society organisations, citizens and the international community that the forthcoming elections would be free from electoral violence and disruption. In this regard, it is crucial to engage eminent National House of Chiefs in ensuring that the upcoming elections would be devoid of negative actions and nefarious activities.
This paper therefore analyses the traditional and constitutional roles of chiefs. More importantly, it assesses the contributions of the chieftaincy institution to ensuring peaceful and credible elections in 2012 and 2016 by collaborating with civil society organisations (CSOs) such as the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) as well as state institutions like the security agencies. It also examines the controversies related to the behaviours and positions of chiefs during election years despite their constitutional prohibition to engage in partisan politics. It finally envisages the roles that the chiefs can play in fostering peaceful elections with credible outcomes on 7th December 2020 without compromising their position of neutrality and impartiality.
THE TRADITIONAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL ROLES OF CHIEFS IN THE GHANAIAN SOCIETY
Traditionally, chiefs are the pivot around which the Ghanaian society revolves. Chiefs embody Ghanaian cultural values and practices, represent the community and community identity and serve as symbolic leaders of development (Crook, 2005). They also play an indispensable role in resolving disputes, promoting social cohesion and national unity in all African countries. In Ghana, chiefs historically had absolute power to administer all aspects of monarchical rule or governance. Under colonial rule, the legislative, judicial and executive powers of the state were exercised through them (Gyampo, 2011).
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