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28 June 2016

Credible Democracy Is Rooted in Free & Fair Elections – Annan

Kofi Annan2A former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, says democracy that lacks credibility cannot be called democracy, and that credible democracy is important, as it wheels the trust and confidence of the people to believe in the electoral process.

According to him, credible democracy is also rooted in free and fair elections, and that the integrity of this year’s polls was paramount, in order to prevent the situation whereby the streets take the place of the ballot box. Mr. Annan, therefore, called for proper management of the elections, so that it would be seen to credible, and the results accepted by all.

The former UN diplomat noted that elections were avenues for political rivalry, arbitration, peace, and individuals’ participation, but in circumstances where political rivals and their supporters did not believe the electoral process to be free and fair, they would ultimately resort to less peaceful means to change the political direction.

“If we have fair and convincing elections, there is no need for violence,” he added.

The former UN Secretary-General was speaking at the Centre for Democratic Development’s (CDD) 12th ‘Konti ne Akwamu’ Lecture, on the theme, “Credible and peaceful elections: A prerequisite for Africa’s progress,” at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra, on Thursday.

Kofi Annan described Ghana’s democracy as “work-in-progress”, since it had not achieved its fullness, and prayed that the November 7 elections be conducted on the principle of inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.

He urged stakeholders to work hard at sustaining the democratic process towards its desirable end, stressing that politics was too important to be left to politicians alone. He indicated that democratic institutions ought to be strengthened to promote multiparty competition that will bestow legitimacy on the winner, and provide security for the losers.

He urged the country to shy away from the practice of the “winner-takes-all” phenomenon that discourages democracy. Another enemy of democracy, Mr. Annan identified, was vote buying and bribing of candidates.

“Unregulated money in politics undermines voters’ fate in elections and confidence in democracy. Vote buying, bribery of candidates, including organised crime, have to be prevented,” he advised.

He also called for the removal of barriers that prevent voting, and the wider participation of marginalised people, saying: “Too often, women, young people, minorities and other marginalised groups are not given a full opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.”

Mr. Annan advised stakeholders to continue to worker harder to preserve and deepen the country’s democratic credentials it has gained over the years, to secure the future, peace, and fundamental human rights that allow citizens to live as free men and women.

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