THE President of the Ghana Association of Certified Mediators and Arbitrators (GACMA), Prof. Kofi Quashigah, has advocated mediation as a viable option to get the major political parties in the country to work together for a peaceful election.
He said the process of mediation could, however, only be successful, if all parties came to the realisation that there was the need for them to work towards peace.
Reacting to the proposals by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to ensure peace on the election day, Prof Quashigah told the Daily Graphic that mediation was a viable tool for consensus building and the ironing out of differences in all instances.
“The parties must, however, recognise the need to choose mediation to settle their differences and move on to a peaceful election day,” he said.
Prof Quashigah said mediation, unlike litigation, worked on free will and the mutual respect of all parties involved, as well as the process of mediation itself.
He said the first step was for both parties to realise the need to agree and sit at one table and talk about their differences in the presence of a mediator both parties could trust.
His ideas were supported by Mr Austin Gamey, a professional mediator, who was of the view that the parties needed to “have conversations” on how they wanted the electioneering process to evolve for the benefit of all.
He said it was time the country saw itself as a mediation state, where apart from criminal matters that were judged in the law courts, other social disagreement had to be resolved on a platform of mediation.
Mr Gamey said the peace plan of the NPP would not work unilaterally, but needed to be initiated rather by an independent minded institution or individual, trusted by all parties who would guide the parties through processes of bearing their concerns, re-framing perceptions and coming out with new models of communication that would engender peace.
In October this year, the NPP Chairman, Mr Mark Manu, invited the NDC Chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei, for both parties to agree on specific joint actions towards enhancing peace on election day.
Mr Manu told the Daily Graphic that the idea behind the invitation was for all the parties to sit and draw an action plan for peace.
Specifically, the peace plan would have included, particularly for Tamale, the banning of the riding of motor-bikes on the election day, the frequent security patrols of certain roads leading to and from polling stations and flash points, as well as body search of people going in to vote, to ensure that they carried no weapons.
Mr Manu said to date he had had no response from the chairman of the NDC.
The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, for his part, said the NDC could not participate in the peace plan of the NPP, when there were outstanding issues that had not been dealt with.
For instance, it was the government’s responsibility to ensure law and order. However, the government, which was wholly cut out of the NPP, was reneging on its responsibility, judging from the inaction of the government to deal with clashes that occurred in Gushiegu, Mr Asiedu-Nketia added
When asked if a neutral agency would be appropriate to give an impetus to the peace plan, both Messrs Manu and Asiedu-Nketiah said it was possible.
However, whereas Mr Manu said the peace plan had been shared with the National Peace Council and other partners with favourable responses, Mr Asiedu Nketia said the NDC had written to the Council of State, the Christian Council of Ghana, the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Ahmadiyya Mission and several other religious and secular organisations with no favourable responses.
He said with the Council of State, they failed to even to meet them to share their concerns.
DAILY GRAPHIC, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2008