The Ghana Catholic Bishop Conference has asked Christians to ?make their own decisions as to which party comes closest to the Christian ethos and offers them hope? in the crucial general elections on Friday.

?Christian voters are encouraged to be more discerning and objective in their analysis of socio-economic issues and should use for instance, the Catholic Social Teaching, to examine the views of the candidates on pertinent issues considering the candidates? integrity and their past and potential performance.?

In their pastoral letter on election 2012, signed by Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Bishop of Konongo-Mampong and President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops? Conference, they said, ?Voting should be guided more by one?s moral convictions than by one?s attachment to a political party or interest group.

?We want to continue to offer guidance to all peace loving Ghanaians as we come towards elections 2012. The Church?s obligation to teach about moral values that should shape our lives, including our public lives, is central to its mission and would not be compromised.?

The bishops said it was unfortunate that Ghanaians became relevant only because of impending elections, noting, ?This is partially because most citizens do not see themselves as having a role to play and the representatives are seemingly happy to keep it that way.?

?We urge all citizens, especially Christians, to be interested in issues that affect them ? choice of representation, evaluation of their effort, holding these representatives accountable at all times, encouraging them or constructively criticizing them when necessary.?

The bishops said the Electoral Commission (EC) had a duty to conduct free, fair, credible and transparent election and not do things that fed into perceptions that the commission was favouring one party over another, and also challenged the media to be ?cultured, ethical and absolutely fair in reporting of events before, during and after the elections?.

?We appeal to the EC to ensure that all relevant resources are deployed for the elections. Furthermore, we call on the EC to undertake still diligent checks into the background of prospective electoral officers who would be selected to supervise the various polling stations to avoid situations where they could easily be compromised.

?The environment before elections is critical and must be conducive to free and fair elections. Political parties should stop being provocative in their campaign posture and language.

?To promote informed choices, all those organizations concerned with civic education should team up to educate people about their civic and electoral rights. It is healthy for citizens to hold different political opinions and engage in rational discourse, while all the time respecting each other?s dignity,? they stated.

The bishops urged the security agencies to be impartial in the discharge of their duties and asked the contestants to exhibit a high sense of statesmanship by undertaking to accept election results declared by the Electoral Commission, saying, ?Be magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat.?

 By William Yaw Owusu

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