Various security organizations in Ghana are expected to begin meeting today (Wednesday) to map out strategies to ensure the December general election is not marred by violence. Top security chiefs in the country are expressing optimism about their preparedness to ensure a peaceful election, adding that they would be planning a mock exercise as part of an overall strategy to contain any possible violence. President John Kufuor's government said Wednesday's meeting forms part of the government's commitment to entrenching democracy. The government also said it has adequately financed the independent electoral commission to organize a credible election on December seven.
Frank Agyekum is the government's spokesman on governance. From the capital, Accra he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the security agencies are determined to ensure voters are protected during and after the general election.
"The objective of the meeting is for all security agencies in the country to coordinate their efforts towards the election. They want to test their state of readiness in covering the election. Indeed after this meeting, they are going to have a mock rehearsal as to what would happen in case of violence or any untoward happening should occur. It is one more of the readiness of the security agencies and of government to ensure that we have a peaceful run of elections and also after the election to ensure that there is no mishap to mar the election," Agyekum pointed out.
He said President Kufuor's government is committed to a peaceful election.
"The government has given its commitment towards ensuring a free vote. Those pockets of violence are regrettable and they are things that shouldn't have happened. However, they have happened and the fact that it has not escalated and as you would realize we try to keep it down. And as we speak now, we can't report of any violence anywhere. So, it is just another demonstration of how committed the government is trying to ensure a peaceful election," he said.
Agyekum said all political parties participating in the election are determined to ensure their partisans desist from violence during the election.
"The president has given his word and the candidates have given their word. And so we are all trying very hard to ensure that we have a peaceful election this year," Agyekum noted.
He said the government has invited international election officials to observe the general election.
"To demonstrate its commitment to peace, the government said it is prepared to bring in foreign observers to monitor the election to ensure that we have a peaceful run. And this is to ensure that the government is opening its doors to the international community just to give the assurance that there is no hanky panky dealings taking place," he said.
Agyekum said the electoral commission has been well funded to carry out its mandate of ensuring a fair vote.
"As you know, the government has provided the electoral commission with all the funds that it requires. So that the electoral commission wouldn't be found wanting in terms of its ability in the conduct of the election. So, far we can give the assurance that the government is very committed to peace and we know that Ghana is being looked upon by the whole world and most, especially most African countries to follow the path. We know we've been trailblazers in this democratic process. We don't want to lose that and we are looking to even better than what we have done before," Agyekum noted.
He said the government is sure of the organizational ability of the electoral commission to ensure a successful election.
"We have no doubt about the electoral commission's capacity to run the election. They've done it four times and each time they've improved upon the first one that they've held and I'm sure that this one would be an improvement of what they did in the last election," he said.
Agyekum said there seems to be a dramatic ease in both political and ethnic tensions ahead of the election.
"I see a lessening of tension because just about a week or so ago, we held the first presidential debate where all the four leading candidate did participate. After that editors from carious news media organizations also held another session for the presidential candidates to meet and interact and share their vision for the country for the people. And I'm saying that all these things are going to help to reduce tension in the country because the so-called masses begin to see their leaders interacting and sharing jokes on stage and that goes down to all of them to know that we are one people, and we are contesting for the best ideas and we are not at not at each others throat," Agyekum pointed out.