Ghana

Excerpts from Kofi Annan’s Exclusive Letter to the Daily Guide

I believe we can never overstate enough the importance of guarding peace. I know many exclaim we are over-exaggerating but I tell you, the fragility of our democracy is highly underestimated. i will not go into much detail here. I’ll save that for other discussions. For now though, it is important that we peruse this excerpt of Kofi Annan’s exclusive letter below, and guard the words with all we’ve got.

Excerpt below, re-blogged from the Daily Guide:

It must be ideas and personalities, not wallets, which hold sway. States must ensure that campaign funding is both regulated and transparent, to avoid perceptions that votes can be bought or results unduly influenced by the rich and powerful, a concern voiced during the recent elections in the United States.

Elections with integrity confer on the winners the legitimacy to govern. Losing candidates and their supporters must accept the result. But victory also comes with responsibility. The winners must safeguard the rights and well-being of their defeated opponents and supporters. They must avoid a ‘winner-take-all’ mentality that stores up resentment, and risks later conflict.

Evidence from around the world gathered for the Commission shows that elections conducted with integrity have far-reaching benefits. They empower women, encourage the fight against corruption, ensure greater services to the poor, improve governance and help end violent conflict.

Flawed elections, on the other hand, can create tensions and trigger unrest and violence, setting back development by decades. They give democracy a bad name, depriving a country of a tried-and-tested mechanism for expressing disagreement and changing course peacefully.

While most countries today hold regular elections, many do not meet the criteria of elections with integrity. As a result, each election becomes a potential flashpoint rather than a moment of national debate, reflection and, ultimately, unity. Africa – in particular has suffered from flawed elections, which have sometimes degenerated into violence, and even civil war. For many years Ghana has stood above these problems.

Since 1992, we have conducted no less than five elections and, more importantly, seen two’ peaceful transfers of power between parties. We have rightly become a byword for electoral success and political stability in Africa.

As a result, we have prospered. We are an open country, with a vibrant press and an active civil society. Investors, from home and abroad, applaud this stability which creates a sound investment climate. We can be proud of this record.

But there can be no room for complacency. The disastrous 2007 elections in Kenya, illustrated the risks faced by all countries. As the lead mediator in the crisis that ensued, I witnessed first-hand the violence and damage that elections without integrity can unleash. It was a huge setback for Kenya’s economy, reputation and future.

We must keep this experience in mind as we head to the polls. All Ghanaians – young and old, women and men – have a part to play in this democratic exercise.

Whether as officials or journalists, policemen or judges, party members or voters, we must strive to ensure that these elections are respectful, transparent and peaceful.

Beyond party differences there is the greater national interest at stake. After the elections, we shall have to work together across party lines to pursue the development of our country. Much remains to be done to ensure a better future for our children. We cannot afford to let them down.

I believe Africa is at a turning point. Never before have the region’s prospects looked so bright. As much of the rest of the world is experiencing stagnation, or even recession, we are growing at a brisk pace, creating huge opportunities.

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