The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has assured the international community that the world will have cause to be proud of Ghana after the conduct of this year’s general election on December 7.
We are keenly aware of the reputation Ghana has built as a tolerant and working democracy and we have every intention to nurture and improve upon it,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo made the call when he addressed the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) via zoom from his office at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday.
For the first time in the 75-year history of the UN, world leaders could not make the journey to New York for the world’s biggest gathering of Heads of State because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The high-level session was, instead, held virtually.
It was on the theme: “The future we want, the United Nations we need: Reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism — Confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action”.
The President said he could state with great pride that in spite of the difficulties involved in conducting elections during a pandemic, “I’m able to state that all Ghanaians have agreed that we have to work together to ensure that the elections will be transparent, free, fair, safe and credible”.
That, he explained, would be the eighth election since the country embarked on constitutional rule in its Fourth Republic in 1992, and that each of the polls had been an improvement on the previous, adding that the Ghanaians were looking forward to this year’s passing off peacefully, characteristic of the Ghanaian dignity.
Ghana held elections in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and the next general election is due for December 7, this year, when presidential and parliamentary elections will be held concurrently.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghanaians were prepared for the twin elections like everything, even though politicking had been affected by the pandemic and parties could not campaign for votes in the approach with which they were accustomed
Political parties, he said, were popularising their messages through technology due to the global pandemic.
He said he had no doubt that at the end of the elections, Ghanaians would be proud of themselves, Africa would have good cause to be proud of Ghana and the rest of the world would find lessons to learn from us.
The President said there should not be discrimination in the distribution of any COVID-19 vaccine should the world find one.
”If the answer to this pandemic lies in finding a vaccine, that vaccine should be made available to the whole world — rich and poor alike, developed and developing, all races and all beliefs. The virus has taught us that we are all at risk and there’s no special protection for the rich or a particular class,” he said.
He said the lessons from the pandemic were that the world fell together and looked into the abyss together, saying that even as countries closed their borders and shut airports, the reality dawned on humanity that they had to rely on one another to be able to get out of the trouble.
He explained that for as long as the virus existed, whatever medical solutions that might be found should be made available for all in aid of our common humanity.
President Akufo-Addo said all the sacred economic rules by which the world had been urged to conduct affairs in the past century had been thrown out, at least for the moment, adding: “Indeed, all our best laid plans have turned out to be of no use when faced with the ravages of an unknown virus.”
He said Ghana had, however, chalked up model successes in trying to defeat the virus through resolute actions by the efforts of his government, with the cooperation and support of Ghanaians and the Grace of the Almighty God.
Year of Return
The President recounted that last year marked the 400th anniversary of the start of the barbaric trans-Atlantic slave trade and the arrival in the Americas of the first captured slaves from West Africa, and to mark that tragic anniversary, Ghana declared 2019 the Year of Return.
He said Ghana extended a hand of welcome back to the African continent to the descendants of the slaves, who constituted the bulk of the Black population in the Americas and the Caribbean, and that was enthusiastically taken up and they all had a great time.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghanaians lived with the grim reality that majority of the abducted slaves from the continent were transported to the Americas and the Caribbean through the forts dotted along its coastline, adding: “We owe it to their descendants to find a safe haven in Ghana if they should need it.”
As the newly elected Chairperson of ECOWAS, the President said one of the immediate tests that confronted the sub-regional body was the political situation and the destabilising activities of terrorists and violent extremists in Mali, compounded by the coup d’etat that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
He said the region had learnt, through bitter experiences, that terrorism and violent extremism were not restricted to particular geographic locations, as the impact of a single terrorist incident in one part of the world resonated throughout the world.
“It is incumbent on the UN and, indeed, all member states to lend their support to the efforts being made by ECOWAS to restore normalcy to Mali and help us defeat the scourge of terrorism,” he said.
The UN is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption in the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts.
The General Assembly will attempt to answer questions on whether the world will emerge stronger and better equipped to work together or distrust and isolation will grow further.
The global body wants this year to be a year of dialogue, when global leaders come together to discuss priorities as a human family and how to build a better future for all.
The UN sees the COVID-19 as a stark reminder of the need for cooperation across borders, sectors and generations.
“Our response will determine how fast the world recovers, whether we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and how well we handle pressing challenges: from the climate crisis to pandemics, inequalities, new forms of violence and rapid changes in technology and in our population,” the UN said.