Political Atmosphere ‘Poisonous’ — Quantson
A Former National Security Co-ordinator, Mr Kofi Bentum Quantson, has stated that the present political atmosphere does not portend well for peaceful elections in December.
He said the description of the 2008 elections by politicians and political parties as “the Mother of all Elections”, “a do- or-die affair”, “the political survival of parties”, open threats of recriminations and counter-recriminations, among other things, were all indicators of potential disputing of election results.
Mr Quantson was speaking on the topic, “Towards a Peaceful Election 2008 in Ghana: The National Security Environment”, at a round-table discussion organized by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) in Accra yesterday. He said the assumptions that Ghana was an oasis of peace and that it was immune to the lawlessness and instability that had affected other countries were unrealistic and fallacious.
“It is a security assessment that has expired. It has the tendency to tranquillize security appreciation into a dangerous state of complacency,” he said, adding that “to rule out certain situations in advance will be suicidal”. He said security could be fluid and willy-nilly and be adversely affected by persistent corroding irritants like bad governance, opportunism, intolerance, impunity and corruption, advising that “security appreciation must never be done on the historical assumption that it has not happened before and, therefore, it cannot happen. There is always a first time”.
Mr Quantson, whose tenure as a security officer spanned the governments of the First Republic to the Fourth Republic under the National Democratic Congress (NDC), said in an election such as Ghana’s, where distrust and suspicion dominated people’s minds, “if threat assessment is not properly organized, intervening responses can create further tensions”. He said the threat assessment ought to be dynamic, dispassionate and objective and not based on emotional or pre-fabrications to achieve partisan objectives. He said in an acrimonious, divisive, volatile political environment, the possibility that fanatical or unthinkable people could be manipulated to embark on criminal acts for parochial political ends should receive sustained attention.
Mr Quantson said the dishonesty, perfidy or hypocrisy of some politicians and their agents, who would openly advocate peace but covertly instigate lawlessness and vandalism, was a terrible threat because “it can distort security appreciation and divert attention and resources”. He said the unhelpful stance of sections of the media with declared entrenched positions and, therefore, open to be manipulated to pursue agenda inimical to the national interest and the irreverent manner in which some religious and traditional leaders not only openly identified with political interests but actually made unwise and even provocative pronouncements did not portend well.
According to him, there were also critical issues that were combustible and would ignite or be ignited if not properly managed. Those, he said, related to chieftaincy matters, particularly in Bawku, Yendi, Tamale, Anloga, Sefwi and elsewhere, with clear or perceived discrimination and selectivity in the criminal justice system, all having the potential for settling scores ever present.
Mr Quantson said claims that the nation’s peace and stability was the product of any one person or any one political party, group, government, present or past should be avoided. He said the future of democracy in the country should reside in vigorous, enlightened, truly patriotic and uncompromisable civil society groups which could mobilize the nation to police the national institutions and structures established to protect the national interest. “That, in my professional judgment, is the most effective way to actualize national security objectives aimed at the decent survival, safety and well-being of the people,” he said.
The Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, Professor E. Gyimah-Boadi, said this year’s elections provided another opportunity to test whether Ghana could maintain or even improve its record of generally peaceful and credible elections and, thereby, demonstrate that Africans could have good elections. Source: Daily Graphic