Former President Electrifies Ghana, Charges EC to Preserve Sanctity of Elections

First president under Ghana’s fourth republic and founder of the country’s current largest opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, has led a virtual durbar to mark the 41st anniversary of the June 4 uprising which first brought him to power, as military ruler.


In his virtual address, Ex-president Rawlings noted that the circumstances that led to the June 4, 1979 revolution could be likened to the hardship with the present era of Covid-19, but questioned whether Ghanaians still have the same mental fortitude and integrity that would enable the country to survive the circumstances of the current trials.


“We must be reminded that we are a country borne out of difficult situations where some had to toil and shed their blood. The positive disruptive force and energy of June 4th was not a product of any political movement or action. The spontaneous eruption on that fateful day represented the unadulterated spirit of liberation that was collectively sought after, as a nation at the brink of collapse”, he stated.


Flight Lieutenant Rawlings who over the years sought to use the annual event to remind Ghanaians of the ideals of social justice, probity, and accountability, as  inspiring spirit behind the 1979 military takeover, paid tribute to the soldiers and service personnel who stood in the forefront to ensure the victory of that fateful June 4. 


“Nothing more has signified or exemplified the patriotism and resilience of Ghanaians than in those difficult moments. Many were those who sacrificed their lives and livelihoods in order to bequeath to subsequent generations a more just society with equal opportunities for all, irrespective of their religion, tribe, ethnicity, political or educational status”, the all-time Ghanaian charismatic leader reiterated.


He admonished Ghanaians  never to forget their past nor erase the memories of where they came from, saying commemorations like the June 4 allowed them to ponder, reflect and re-examine themselves – their conduct and policies and to see if those had properly been aligned to their core values of probity, accountability, integrity and social justice.


Election Commission must Maintain Sanctity of Elections


In what appears renewed concerns that there may be some loopholes in the management of elections, the former Charismatic president charged the country’s election administration body, the Electoral Commission (EC), to preserve the sanctity of the upcoming general elections in December. He underscored the need for the EC to engage in broader stakeholder consultation that would help  ensure transparent and peaceful elections.


“Our democracy is borne out of fire and we must dearly and compassionately protect its flames. One of the key institutional arms of this democratic discourse from pre-colonial to modern day Ghana is the protection of right and choice. We must endeavour as a nation to deepen the spirit of the consultative process, equity, respect for the rule of law or in simple terms, the tenet of democracy and multiparty democracy”, he stated.


Ghana's Election Commission Chairperson, Jean Adukwei Mensa (C)


He also noted that the EC which is the fulcrum of the country’s multiparty democracy should be supported and protected by all stakeholders, to ensure a free and fair election and a peaceful society, saying it is equally important for the revered institution to ensure that the processes leading to this year’s elections are done in consultation with the stakeholders of the nation; to prevent unnecessary suspicion, and promote a peaceful and cohesive society.


“An election is an event, but building a democratic, free and peaceful society is a process, so the debate surrounding the new voter’s register must be thoroughly examined so we do not undermine the successes we have chalked so far as a nation”, the highly respected former president emphasized.


He indicated that the sanctity of the right of choice is not a matter that can be compromised with.


“That sanctity must be preserved at all cost and as we inch towards November let us ensure that the institutional processes are transparent and beyond blemish. Freedom and justice is not abstract. It is very much related to the sanctity of the right of choice”, he said, adding that those who are eligible to exercise that right of choice should not be disenfranchised by dictates that defeat one’s right to vote.


The EC is currently at the centre of controversy, and continues to receive backlashes from both opposition political front-liners and civil society groups over its moves to compile a new voter register for the December polls.


NB: This article has been updated to include the portion in which  Ex-President Rawlings charges the EC to guarantee the sanctity of the December 2020 election. The headline has also been updated to reflect the addendum in the article.