THE Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, has underscored the need for all Ghanaians to insist on peace as the basis for all their actions as they prepare for the December 7 general election.
He said their insistence on peace would ensure that no one threatened the prevailing peace in the nation.
Opening the 7th regional consultation of the West African Inter-Religions Co-ordinating Committee (WAIRCC) in Accra last Tuesday, Alhaji Mahama stressed the need for peace as the pre-requisite for development and progress.
The week-long meeting is being organised in collaboration with the Ghana Conference of Religions for Peace (GCRP), the African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL) and Religions for Peace (RfP).
“As human beings, there will always be differences. It is the approach to resolutions that matters. And that is why the wonderful initiative of bringing different religions together in one council for dialogue must be commended,” the Vice-President told the participants.
He lauded the initiative of the organisers for bringing different beliefs and practices together to share and foster mutual respect for each other’s views, even where they differed fundamentally, and also their efforts at forging an international network of people of diverse religious backgrounds, beliefs and practices.
Alhaji Aliu said the potential of such collaborations were enormous because in using each other’s belief system as a common factor, leaders’ attitude and examples could greatly influence the perceptions and attitudes of numerous people.
He, therefore, tasked participants to provide the kind of leadership that shunned violence and intolerance, promoted respect for other people and rejected all forms of intolerance.
Welcoming participants, the Ameer and Missionary in charge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Maulvi Dr Wahab Adam, spoke about the need for all to collaborate to ensure peace in the sub-region since religion was meant to be a source of immense blessing for mankind.
The Ameer, who is also the Chairman of the GCRP, said although religion had been used to divide, cause anguish and pain, the RfP focused on uniting people for the promotion of peace and development.
He expressed the hope that deliberations on the theme, “Confronting Violence and Advancing Shared Security in West Africa”, would deepen the commitment of all to the promotion of peace.
The General Secretary of the Liberian Council of Churches and Co-ordinator of WAIRCC, Dr Benjamin Dorme Lartey, tracing the beginning of such collaborative efforts, said some warlords in the Liberian War tried to use religion as a factor for the conflicts.
He said Christian and Muslim leaders decided to come together to correct the erroneous impressions and their efforts had nurtured peace in Liberia and Sierra Leone, while further collaborations had been achieved in countries like Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
He announced the expansion of the network to Benin, Senegal and Nigeria.
“Our membership is increasing because it makes sense for religious leaders to come together and work to promote peace,” he added.
In a goodwill message, the West African Regional Director of RfP, Reverend William Tolbert III, said RfP was the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace.
It had also collaborated with inter-religious councils in 70 countries across six continents to build peace, eradicate conflict and advance sustainable development.
The Regional Programme Co-ordinator of the Advocacy for Children Programme for ACRL-RfP, Ms Zebib Kavuma, for her part, said that multi-religious co-operation was the only way forward in consolidating peace in the sub-region and promote the development of people.
The Deputy Minister of the Interior, Mr K. T. Hammond, assured Ghanaians that God was in charge of the country and would ensure a peaceful outcome in the December elections.
DAILY GRAPHIC, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2008, PG 17