As part of preparation towards Ghana's election 2020, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), a regional civil society organisation, has launched the "Strengthening Early Warning and Conflicts Response During Ghana Elections" Project.
The project is particularly designed to strengthen the WANEP National Early Warning Systems (NEWS) and also aimed at enhancing the capacity of civil society and relevant state institutions to promote human security, conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
It is being funded by the Government of Canada under the Canada Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI).
Mr Albert Yelyang, National Network Coordinator, WANEP, did the Project launch during the Project Inception Meeting with National Leadership of Political Parties and Stakeholders in Accra.
He said the project launch was a very key assignment towards proactiveness in preventing violence in an election that would probably be yet one of the most competitive in the fourth republic.
He said the project aimed at making sure that they were conscious of identifying the threats, conducting analysis, providing warning through reporting on the election related dynamics, and responding to the warnings before they degenerated further.
"We intend to use this process to support create a peaceful environment for electioneering that will encourage participation by all," Mr Yelyang said.
He said the project also sought to encourage the political parties and the media to be circumspect in their campaign and reportage.
The National Network Coordinator urged political parties to conduct policy based and issue based campaigns to enable the electorates make informed choices.
He said the peaceful conduct of elections in the country required a deployment of early warning and conflict management infrastructure to mitigate threats that might arise especially between majority and minority groups.
"We will need early disbursement and support to the key election stakeholders such as the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Peace Council (NPC) to conduct their business enough to curtail some of the misinformation, create well informed electorates, ... and prevent election related threats," he said.
"This is part of early warning because early warning without early response is no early warning."
Mr Yelyang noted that the good and bad lessons learnt in the nation's past elections especially in the 2016 elections and the Ayawaso West Wuogon Parliamentary By-Elections had thought Ghanaians to be in love with the adage that says "the early bird, catches the worm", and also the adage that "a stitch in time saves nine."
"We believe that our efforts will compliment already initiated ones such as the Law on vigilantism and related violence and those being carried out by the various democratic and elections related stakeholders throughout the country," he said.
He therefore, encouraged all stakeholders that their efforts towards preventing and curtailing electoral and election related violence should be programmatic spanning long terms rather than short term and eventful periods and activities.
Mr Vincent Azumah, West Africa Regional Coordinator, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, WANEP, said the West Africa Region had been bedeviled with a number of peace and security challenges.
He said key among these challenges were organized crime and violent extremism, gender peace and security, environmental security, democracy and governance; adding that "Ghana is not and has not been immune to these challenges".
He noted that in the Northern parts of Ghana, there had been a growing influx of refugees fleeing extremist attacks in Burkina Faso.
He said from January to June 2019, over 2000 Burkinabé refugees; mostly women and children had been registered and settled in communities in the Upper West Region.
Professor Vladimir Antwi-Danso, Security Analyst and Dean of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces Command Staff College, urged Ghanaians to ensure that country once again emerge victorious, as a shining example to the international community in the 2020 general election.
Mr Pasquale Salvaggio, Political Counsellor, High Commission of Canada, said the success of any election would be attributed to the active participation of the citizenry of the nation.
A cross-section of participants at the meeting