President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring free, fair and transparent elections in the country.
“The idea of being a President, who emerges from a rigged election, is abhorrent to every fibre of my being. I want to continue to be the President of a Ghanaian people who have given me their free consent, with the blessing of the Almighty”, he stated.
President Akufo-Addo stated these in his address to the nation ahead of the commencement of the voter registration exercise yesterday.
Ghana’s democracy, he said, requires not a unity of ideas or political allegiances but the unity of commitment to the Ghana project.
“The free democratic, open, prosperous, and a united nation respectful of human rights and the rule of law that animated our forefathers to make the sacrifices for the liberation of our nation from foreign rule,” he stated.
He noted that Ghana is regularly cited as the shining example of the place in Africa where the electoral process works and where it is always being improved upon.
“We have had seven consecutive presidential and parliamentary elections, which has given us five presidents in the 27-year history of the Fourth Republic with peaceful transfers of power from a government to an opposition party on three separate occasions.
“That is a record virtually without parallel on the African continent, which I and all treasure”, he added.
President Akufo-Addo pointed out that the foundations of the state were not threatened even when there was disagreement with the result of the 2012 general election.
The Supreme Court, he said, rather than the streets determined its outcome.
He pledged to stand by these tenets as the nation embarks on yet another journey to deepen its democratic credential further.
“Ghanaians have chosen the tenets of multiparty democracy and the principles of democratic accountability to govern this state and nobody should dare trade these off more so during a time of crisis,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo’s address followed claims by the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the deployment of military to border towns across the country was part of machinations by government to disenfranchise eligible voters in its strongholds.
However, President Akufo-Addo dismissed the claims, saying “I have no interest in disenfranchising any eligible Ghanaian from registering in tomorrow’s exercise, nor am I interested in any improper machinations to win any election. I have spent my life fighting for free, democratic institutions in our country, and I will continue in that fight for the rest of my life”.
He reiterated that the soldiers are only guarding Ghana’s borders and that they are not going to prevent registration of eligible Ghanaians.
“Let me state, without any form of equivocation, that these deployments are not in any way intended to intimidate or prevent eligible Ghanaians from registering to vote in December. They are there for their express purpose, which is to guard our borders. That is the limit of their remit, and they will not be permitted to stray beyond that remit,” he added.
According to President Akufo-Addo, it is crucial that both the registration exercise and the electoral process itself be conducted in an atmosphere of peace and security, devoid of intimidation and violence.
He said he had been assured by the security agencies of their determination to carry out their duties without fear or favour.
President Akufo-Addo said he had been encouraged by the recent reassurance by the Inspector General of Police that Police will be even-handed in their response to issues.
“The longstanding deployment of security personnel, especially the military, along our borders is another dimension of this process of guaranteeing the peace of the nation. Fellow Ghanaians, it is no secret that our neighbour to the north, Burkina Faso, has, in recent times, been at the receiving end of a number of terrorist attacks, as has another neighbour, Cote d’Ivoire,” he said.
To shore up Ghana’s borders against such attacks, and to defend the nation’s territorial integrity, President Akufo-Addo stressed that the Armed Forces have been very proactive in engaging in operations to secure the country’s borders, and foil any potential terror attacks on Ghanaian soil.
“Operations such as ‘Conquered Fist’ and ‘Koudangou’ have been going along for some time, since 21st February 2019, to meet this objective. Deployments of soldiers in areas along our borders have been regular, and residents living in border towns will bear testimony to this,” he added.
In the fight against COVID-19, it will be recalled that the President took the decision, on Saturday, 21st March, to close all the country’s borders by land, air and sea, with the military assisting personnel of the Immigration Service to shore up the country’s eastern, western and northern borders
President Akufo-Addo said “This development, for example, during the period of the three-week lockdown of Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi, led to the arrest of some five thousand (5,000) persons along our borders, who had entered our country illegally. Indeed, the first six (6) recorded cases of COVID-19 in the Volta Region, for example, were those of West African nationals, who entered the country illegally”.
He added that, “In total, two hundred and seven (207) soldiers have been deployed along the borders of the Upper East Region; one hundred and ten soldiers (110) in the Northern Region; one hundred and two (102) in the North East Region; ninety-eight (98) in the Volta Region; seventy-two (72) in the Oti Region; sixty-nine (69) in Upper West; sixty-four (64) in Bono Region; twenty-one (21) in Savannah Region; and fourteen (14) in the Western Region.”
Whilst being fully aware, like the military commanders, of the sensitivity of the deployments, the President was confident that sensitivity will be fully respected.