|Archbishop Philip Naameh|
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has said that it is very concerned about the phenomenon of vote buying by politicians, saying “such practice is an insult to the intelligence and dignity of the unsuspecting voters.”
The Conference urged politicians to stop the acts of vote buying and also entreated the electorate from yielding to such needless enticements.
In a communiqué issued on Friday in Tamale after its one week Plenary Assembly held between October 8 and 14, the Conference also said, participation in the political life, in the light of fundamental moral principles, was an essential duty of every Christian and of all people of good will.
“We therefore encourage all registered voters to be vigilant as they exercise their franchise. To decide not to vote is to neglect your duty and run the risk of leaving others to decide your future for you”, the communiqué emphasised.
Under the theme: “Reconciliation With God, Humanity and Nature in The Year of Mercy”, the Plenary Assembly deliberated on issues related to the church in Ghana as well as other issues of national concern particularly the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.
At the end of the Plenary Assembly, the Conference elected the Metropolitan Archbishop of Tamale, Most Rev. Philip Naameh as its new President. He succeeded Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Bishop of Mampong Diocese who had been in office for six years.
The communiqué also appealed to politicians, members and supporters of the various political parties, during their campaigning, to avoid the temptation of making promises that they knew they could not fulfil, because that amounted to deceiving the people of Ghana.
It also called on party leaders, parliamentary and presidential candidates to conduct themselves honourably and to respect their opponents, both in their utterances and actions. “Politicians should realise that their political opponents are not their enemies but neighbours who share different views”, the communiqué said.
Further, the communiqué commended the Electoral Commission for all the measures it had put in place to ensure peaceful, free, fair and transparent and credible elections. However, it stressed that, “the integrity and success of the forthcoming elections depend primarily on the Electoral Commission. It called on Ghanaians to repose trust and confidence in the work of the Electoral Commission throughout the period of elections.”
Additionally, it charged parents and guardians to discourage their under-aged children and wards from voting. “In the same vein, we appeal to non-Ghanaians who registered, for one reason or the other, to refrain from voting”, the communiqué admonished.
Moreover, the communiqué called upon the media to uphold the highest journalistic values and ethics in their reportage of the electoral process. “We recommend that news about the elections should not be based on hearsay or prejudice. Information must be verified and the truth professionally ascertained.
“News and stories should not be targeted at causing disgrace or embarrassment to personalities, especially where it is clear that such reportage may trigger disaffection or incite violence”, it indicated.
|Congregation at the evening mass service|
Besides, the communiqué appealed to presidential and parliamentary candidates not to take for granted or interfere with the authority and functions of traditional leaders and the institutional structures upon which they rested.
“We entreat our kings and chiefs to protect the integrity of their stools and skins by refraining from meddling in partisan politics to the displeasure of their subjects as if to say that the party they associate with or endorse is representative of their subjects’ choice as well.
“Politicians and traditional leaders must work to foster peace and seek the integral development of Ghanaians rather than to divide them. Further, we strongly urge religious leaders must be circumspect in their pronouncements and predictions on the outcome of the elections”, the communiqué opined.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference is a religious organisation having its legal foundation in the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, which applies to all Catholic Churches of the Roman Rite throughout the world.
The Bishops' Conference, according to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church (Canon 447-459), is the central Body of the Church in Ghana. Its purpose is to deliberate on matters of concern to the Church in Ghana and to encourage activities in accordance with the needs of the times.