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Twenty five years later, we are better off with democracy as our political system

Twenty five years ago, when then military strong man Mr. Jerry John Rawlings was prevailed upon by Western European donors and powers to give democracy a try, many were the skeptics who doubted if the experiment would succeed, if indeed, Ghanaians would have the patience and temperament to take another shot at democractic governance. Well, the doubters have been proved wrong on all fronts.

Not only has our adventure with western style democracy been a remarkable and resounding success, it is on course to be one of the most enduring political systems in the West African region, if not on the entire African continent, and it remains a shining example for those African nations still struggling to come to terms with the tenets of democracy.

To crown it all, we have succeeded in building and sustaining viable democratic institutions that will stand the test of time.

How did we get to this laudable stage without imploding? I would ascribe that to the determination of Ghanaians to permanently keep the military where it belongs, in the barracks, and not to give it any excuse to intervene and disrupt the ongoing dalliance with democracy.

In short, Ghanaians were prepared to endure the silliness, the empty rhetoric and grandiose promises of politicians than to subject themselves for the umpteenth time to military rule.

I would be the first to admit that our journey the last twenty five years has certainly not been smooth sailing; our elections have not been without controversies, and election campaigns have seen their fair share of crass politicking and grostesque nastiness.

In addition, we have stark political differences and we don’t see every issue through the same lens. But the beauty of the political system we have painstakingly built is such that we have not allowed whatever differences we have to scuttle or derail our democracy.

Neither have we resorted to political violence to settle our disputes. The post electoral challenges we have had were settled in a fair and sensible way that did not further exacerbate our divisions. It is important to point out that in our dealings with each other, the nation’s interest has always been paramount.

Let me cite two glowing examples to press home my point. When he lost the 2012 elections, then candidate Akuffo Addo sought relief in court and lost, yet he gracefully accepted the court’s decision in the supreme interest of the country.

Similarly, former president John Mahama wisely rejected urges from his supporters to contest the outcome of the 2016 elections. The actions by the two gentlemen gave our democracy a huge boost and solidified our democratic bonafides.

So, as we continue to reap the benefits of democracy — a free and vibrant society accompanied by a free press, an independent judiciary, and free elections, what can we all do to sustain our achievements?

First, lets begin by upholding the rule of law. It is fundamental and crucial to democracy, and anytime we deviate from this principle by engaging in corruption, vigilante violence, political vindictiveness and other vices, we set in motion forces that threaten our politicial system and way of life.

All told, we have to be steadfast and resilient if we are to preserve our democratic gains and confront our numerous challenges headon.



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