Mr. Vincent Agyamide Idambituo, Chairperson of the Democratic Republic of Congo Electoral Commission, has commended Ghanaians for the peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves during elections held in the country.
He made the commendation on Monday when he together with 30 delegates from D.R. Congo called on the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) ahead of a five-day study tour of the Ghana electoral system and how the religious organisations partnered with other institutions to contribute to peaceful elections.
He expressed gratitude to the GCBC for the warm reception, and thanked the Ghanaians for praying for the D.R. Congo, urging them to continue praying for them at this critical moment.
Commenting on the purpose of their visit, Mr. Idambituo noted that they were in the country to learn the Ghanaian experience and build their capacity in order to organise peaceful elections, as well as prevent electoral conflicts.
Most Rev. Philip Naameh, President of the Bishops Conference, who shared words of solidarity with the people of Congo, in connection with the recent development, expressed concern about the distress situation in that country, adding that the Church was praying for calm and peaceful elections.
The Prelate touched on the involvement of the Church in political reforms since Ghana’s independence and highlighted the interfaith collaboration between the Catholic Church, Christian Council of Ghana and other faith groups, which has contributed to peace building efforts in the country.
He said the GCBC has made it a civic responsibility to participate in the fourth Republic to champion the peace and talk on pertinent national issues.
During the 2016, Archbishop Naameh, who is also the Metropolitan Archbishop of Tamale, where 84 percent of the constituent were Muslims, shared his strategy in meeting Muslim leaders in the Metropolis in order to present a common message for their various constituent during the period. He added that this has contributed to reduce the hiccups that was associated to the area in the past.
Most Rev. Charles G. Palmer-Buckle, Vice President of the GCBC, in his remark advised the delegates to adapt the Ghanaian experience to what pertained in Congo, entreating them to demonstrate maturity and exercise patience in their efforts to work together to bring peace in Congo.
The Archbishop citing Ghanaian interreligious efforts, which he said was over 40 years, urged the religious groups in Congo to speak with one voice on national issues.
Stating that “there has never been any election without electoral challenges” Archbishop Palmer-Buckle stressed the need to work together in harmony, and be prepared to mediate when electoral challenges arose.
Mr. Samuel Zan Akologo, Executive Secretary of the Department of Human Development and Caritas Ghana, at the NCS, gave an overview on the Involvement of Religious Leaders in Elections in Ghana, highlighting the monitoring and observation for validation of outcomes by respective faith groups since 1992.
Other areas involvement he touched on, included advocacy and Promotion of Electoral Reforms, and Voter Education for Compliance of Electoral Processes and Voter Conduct as well as their efforts in mediation, and dialogue.
The Executive Secretary sharing lessons learnt and best practices from an interfaith cooperation in the involvement of faith groups in elections, noted the transformation of religious differences and experiences for social cohesion and democratic governance. elections engagements in Ghana.
Similarly, Very Rev. Fr. Clemet Adjei, Director of the Directorate of Governance, Justice and Peace, shared the Church’s mandate in civic education of the electorate on electoral rules, monitoring of election and the promotion of justice and peace before, during and after elections.
He said the Church collaborates with the National Commission of Civic Education and the Electoral Commission to bring understanding of electoral rules and the electorates right and responsibilities.
Beside, Fr Adjei touched on the Church’s role in training 150000 election observers, who participated in monitoring Ghana’s 2016 General elections.
Very Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni Frempong, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, noted that in accepting the request from the Congolese Council of Churches to undertake a study tour in Ghana, the Council thought of all the partners they worked with including the Catholic Church.
He explained that the mutual respect that exist among the religious groups, who speak with one voice on national issues and in elections in the country, was so because they have presented themselves as institutions of calm.
As part of the itinerary of the delegation, Dr. Opuni-Frempong noted that they will meet former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agykum Kufour and John Dramani Mahama as well as pay visit the National Chief Imam, the Electoral Commission and the National Peace Council.
They delegate will visit the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and interact with the media before leaving.
Present at receive the delates were Most Revs. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Bishop of Konongo-Manpong Diocese and former President of the Bishops’ Conference, Peter Paul Angkyier, Bishop of Damongo Diocese and Vey Rev. Fr. Lazarus Anondee, Secretary General of the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS).
Others were Rev. Frs. Wisdom Larweh, Assistant Secretary General, Dieu-Donne Davor, Executive Secretary of the Department of the Social Communication, Mr. Francis Koku, Parliamentary Liaison at the NCS.
*The Bishops with the Delegates
By Kwesi Yirenkyi Boateng