Leaders of some political parties have welcomed President J.E.A. Mills? assurance to maintain peace in the run-up to this year?s election but asked the President to back his word with action.
They said the President?s affirmation of peace was timely because it was only in an atmosphere of peace that the country could come out united after the election.
However, they said, the President should move beyond the words and create the enabling environment for peace to prevail before, during and after the election.
They were reacting to President Mills? independence speech during which he rededicated his commitment to ensuring peace before, during and after this year?s election.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic on the fringes of the Independence day celebrations at the Independence Square in Accra Tuesday, Samia Nkrumah, the Chairperson of the Convention Peoples Party, Hassan Ayariga, the presidential candidate of the Peoples National Convention and Dr Henry Lartey, the leader of the Great Consolidated Popular Party, all observed that the 2012 elections remained crucial to the existence of the country hence everything must be done to safeguard it.
An impressive parade by security personnel and students at the Independence Square in Accra heralded Ghana?s 55th independence anniversary celebrations.
A contingent of 48 officers, 900 men and women of the security services and 1,200 schoolchildren and teachers took turns to march pass in slow and quick paces to the admiration of the cheering audience.
The various artillery regiments marched with their armoury, including mortars, multiple rocket launchers, anti-tank/anti-aircraft vehicles, riot control vehicles, fire tenders and recovery vehicles.
But the toast of the day came from the bravado and swag displayed in the march of the special forces of the Navy, the Airforce and the Army, making sections of the crowd explode into wild jubilation and applause.
Then came a 21-gun salute which vibrated through the square, compelling some of the invited guests to sit alert. Others who could not stand the thunderous noise covered their ears with their palms or fingers.
Spotting a low haircut and immaculately dressed in a black suit and shoes to match, President John Evans Atta Mills, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, kicked off the parade in the company of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Paul Tawiah Quaye, and Lieutenant-General Peter Augustine Blay, the Chief of Defence Staff, by inspecting a massive guard of honour comprising 48 officers, 900 men and women from the security services and 1200 students and teachers from selected schools within the Accra metropolis.
Neatly formed lines of the contingents stood at ease as the President and his entourage weaved and bobbed through their columns.
Right after inspecting the guard of honour, the President lighted the independence flame to the admiration of the cheering crowd, some decked in the national colours and waving miniature flags.
The flag bearers of the various security services, the Mace, display was also a beautiful sight to behold but when a police officer dropped his mace, the crowd spontaneously screamed ohhhhhhh!
Conspicuously missing at this year’s parade was the acrobatic displays.
Ms Nkrumah noted that the “call for peace and non-violence in the upcoming election was in the right direction after all we can survive in opposition but not do anything to undermine the solidarity of Ghana which should be of prime importance to all Ghanaians.
The message, she stated was well placed and the importance of peace is well emphasised but let us go beyond the word and do things that will push our democracy.”
She had some advice for the various political parties as they lace their boots for the campaign, “Let us do things that will not lead to denigrating each other. Let our campaign be on issues rather than what someone is doing,”
“Let us continue to build the international image that has put Ghana on the world map as a beacon of hope for the continent.
For many of us, the celebration should be about serving the country with honesty, integrity and the zeal to serve our nation.”
Ms Nkrumah who was smartly dressed in a kente garment said at 55, Ghana’s economic progress needed not to be dependent on the West but rather strengthened by the collective resolve of Ghanaians to ensure that the country’s gold was refined in Ghana and its cocoa processed in Ghana.
“For years, we have depended on advice from outside to the detriment of our progress, it is time to draw on the expertise of our compatriots,” she said waving at a crowd.
Ms Nkrumah said Ghana’s economic fortunes could have a great turn around, “If we don’t develop adhoc projects but long term development with the future at its heart. Development does not just happen, we need to plan.”
Dressed in a white flowing robe, Mr Ayariga also gave thumbs up to the President’s message, saying as a country, peace was a necessary ingredient for national development.
He also added his voice to the call on the government to provide the needed environment for the conduct of peaceful elections devoid of rancour and acrimony.
He pledged his party’s commitment to ensure that the country threaded on a peaceful path before, during and after the elections.
He, however, noted with concern the country’s pace of development and stated that after 55 years, there was the need for a paradigm shift if the country was to join the commonwealth of successful nations.
Dr Lartey for his part observed that the President’s call was in the right direction but needed to be put in action.
The son of the late GCPP leader, Dan Lartey, noted that the country’s progress could not be compromised at the expense of future generations just because of elections.
While urging the government to give the Electoral Commission the needed resource to conduct a peaceful election, he also urged the political parties and all Ghanaians to be tolerant of all views.
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