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August 14, 2013

Expert: Ghana’s Political Parties Creating Tensions

by Peter Clottey

Senior officials of Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) are creating “Irresponsible animosity” in the country, according to the executive director of the Media Foundation for West Africa.

“Their mode of propaganda is made up of attacks on each other, insults [and] creating animosity where there is none,” said the foundation’s Kwame Karikari. “What they have done over the years is that because there are so many radio stations, they have organized people who call into discussion programs to conduct these kinds of mutual attacks, the spread of lies and the propaganda of character assassination and scandal mongering.” 

Currently, there is no law in Ghana that regulates broadcasting.

Karikari, who is a media management professor at the University of Ghana, also called for a law regulating broadcasting. He said such a law would prevent political parties from using broadcast stations to create tension across the country.

“If there could be a broadcasting law, which provides broad outlines and guides for how radio stations should operate, I think that will help a bit,” said Karikari.
 
Religious and civil society groups have often called on the two main parties to discourage their followers from insulting opponents on radio and television.

“I suppose that civil society groups must keep hammering at the badness of this behavior, hoping that we can get the public also on our side to put pressure on radio stations and managers to be more professional and get to work on real issues, and not these divisionary propaganda methods,” said Karikari.                                                    

Supporters of the two main parties often described by the public as “serial callers”, frequently call radio and television talk programs to attack their opponents, each side accusing the other of incompetence and financial malfeasance.

“Perhaps it is a mutual attempt by these two political parties to divert attention of the public from the real issues all the time,” said Karikari. 

Some political experts have expressed concern that the tactics employed by both the NDC and NPP have contributed to rising tensions since last year’s presidential election. The NPP has petitioned the Supreme Court to throw out President John Dramani Mahama’s electoral victory, citing voter irregularities.

Karikari said he did not believe that the tensions would result in violent clashes between supporters of the two parties.

“They can only lead to violence if this propaganda or hateful communication is followed up by the members of the party organizing themselves to commit acts of violence, but that has not happened,” Karikari said.
Clottey interview with Prof. Kwame Karikari head Media Found. for West Afri