There is no room and there should be no room for violence in political discourse, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stressed.
He observed that competitive politics must be of mutual respect and not the divisiveness and antagonism it has witnessed over the years.
President Akufo-Addo made the observation and vow in his 62nd independence anniversary address in Tamale.
This year’s celebration is themed ‘Celebrating Peace and Unity’ and it is the first time it is being marked outside Accra.
The president expressed concerns Ghana’s chieftaincy institution has created more troubles for the country but pinned hope in the Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Kofi Dzamesi, to intensify efforts to find lasting solutions to all disputes, like in the case of Dagbon.
“It is sad for me to state that the other institution that has been the source of friction in our society is politics,” he switched to the thorny issue of political violence.
“We the leaders of the political parties have a great responsibility to set a proper tone for political discourse in our country.”
He noted how for years a deliberate campaign was waged to bastardise competitive politics for military intervention.
“Competitive politics was said to be divisive, antagonistic and corrupt.”
But he said after espousing multi-party democracy years later following failure by authoritarian rule to offer the much-needed panacea, there has been stability.
He, however, noted how debates and contests especially in elections have degenerated into violence.
“There is no room and there should be no room for violence in this whole process.
“It should be a contest of ideas that seeks to win over the hearts and minds of the people.”
For him, political success should be counted by how many young people are educated and get employment after school.
“And not by how many young people can be marshaled to disrupt elections or how many broken bones we can count.
“The people of Ghana do not deserve to be toyed with in such a reckless manner.”
To this end, President Akufo-Addo insisted he will spare no effort to rid the nation of political violence.
“The very concept of political violence is offensive and shames us all who are in politics,” he admitted.
He expressed hope that the impending dialogue between the two major political parties – New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) – on violence will succeed.
The celebration had in attendance Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Speaker of Parliament Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye and Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, among several dignitaries.
Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou was the Special Guest of Honour.