A day’s dialogue session on politics of exclusion was on Thursday, July 13 held in the Volta regional capital of Ho.
It was organized by the Community Focus Foundation (CFF-Ghana) a Ho based non-governmental organization in partnership with Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability, (ASEPA-Ghana) and the Democratic Credentials Network (DCN-Ghana).
The forum held on the theme: “Politics of exclusion; a threat to Ghana’s democracy,” brought together civil society organizations, representatives of various Political parties, Religious groups, the Volta regional Peace Council, Youth associations and other stakeholders.
Mr Richard Kasu, Executive Director for CFF-Ghana in his opening remarks said the forum was necessary to discuss the importance of participatory governance in Ghana and to ensure peace and security before, during and after the 2024 general elections.
Mr Kasu said, having recognized the risks associated with politics of exclusion and the catalyzing roles played by stakeholders especially political actors in movements across the world, CFF-Ghana through it’s Participatory Democracy, Peace and Security program was partnering other stakeholders to design strategic initiatives to influence public policy on participatory governance and promote electoral integrity, peace and security.
Mr Mensah Thompson, Executive Director for ASEPA-Ghana, said Ghana’s fledgling democracy was constantly being threatened by the creeping exclusionary politics and voter suppression and “the earlier we tackle this canker collectively, the better for Ghana – a country considered as the citadel of democracy in Africa.
He said, politics of exclusion in the country had risen sharply in recent times and occurs at targeted regions
considered as strongholds of the two main political parties (NDC and NPP) during general elections.
Mr Thompson observed that during the voter registration exercise in 2020, government deployed huge
numbers of military officers to some border towns of the country especially the Volta region, considered by many as the “World Bank” of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
He added that although government argued that the deployment was for good reasons, most
political actors including the NDC vehemently rebutted government claims and alleged it was
tactics being used to prevent people of the affected regions from registering to participate in the 2020 general election as enshrined in Ghana’s 1992 Constitution.
Mr Thompson waded into the ongoing debate in the country on whether to use the National Identification or the Ghana as sole proof of identity to register and vote in the 2024 general elections and advised the Electoral Commission (EC) to avoid any such move as it would disenfranchise several Ghanaians who may not have the Ghana cards.
He said the Ghana card in it’s present form was an ECOWAS travel document which didn’t pass for a national identity card adding that Ghana needed a synchronised national identification regime.
Mr Mawutor Agbavitor, Volta regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), said it was disheartening to witness the rise of exclusionary practices within the political landscape of a nation that prides itself on its democratic principles – “Politics, at its core, should be a unifying force, bringing together diverse voices including political actors and citizens to take collective actions in the right perspectives for the greater good of our nation Ghana.”
“We cannot ignore the painful reality of marginalization experienced by certain regions, such as the Volta Region, under the current government, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – It is important to highlight specific examples of how the ruling government has excluded and marginalized the Ewes and the Volta Region,” Agbavitor emphasized.
He said the Volta region had witnessed a neglect of crucial infrastructure developments and abandoned projects, since the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government took office in 2017.
“Basic amenities such as roads, schools, hospitals, and water supply systems have been chronically underfunded and overlooked – This lack of investment hampers the region’s progress, restricts economic growth, and limits opportunities for residents of the region,” he said.
Mr Agbavitor said sending of military personnel to voter registration centeres in the Volta region, was deliberate on the part of the government, which raised serious concerns about the suppression of democratic participation which was the bedrock of Ghana’s young
democracy, adding that such actions undermined the principle of free and fair elections, “casting a shadow on the democratic values we hold dear.”
He emphasize that no region should be treated as a political pawn or subjected to discriminatory policies as being witnessed in recent times.
“Each region, including the Volta region, deserves equal attention, support, and opportunities for growth and development – It is our collective responsibility, as citizens and leaders, to challenge the politics of exclusion and demand inclusivity from our government. We must hold our leaders accountable for their actions, advocating for equitable distribution of resources and fair treatment of all regions
including the right to register and participate in national elections,” he said.
He called on government and all stakeholders to work together to ensure that every Ghanaian, regardless of their ethnic background, religious affiliation or geographic location, “can fully participate in our democratic process and benefit from the opportunities our nation provides – By embracing inclusivity and rejecting exclusion, we can build a stronger and more united Ghana that upholds the principles of democracy and justice.”
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