Originally posted by DIPD on:
Boot camps and board games contribute to peaceful elections in Ghana
Peace Boot Camps for youth leaders and establishing inter-party platforms to resolve conflicts between parties resulted in a marked decrease in political violence.
The run up to the recent Ghanaian elections was full of concerns that violent outbreaks would mar the election. Fortunately, this was put to shame as there was only one third of violent incidents on election day compared to the election in 2016. This can largely be attributed to a massive effort to prevent conflicts by all actors in society. The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) played a key role in this and contributed to peace in six constituencies which was otherwise tagged hot-spots after widespread incidences of violence in previous elections and related electoral activities.
The concern for electoral violence
Since the election in 2016, political violence, often referred to as ‘political vigilantism’, has become a more and more dominant feature in Ghanaian politics. Most often incidents of violence are perpetrated by youth wings of political parties, led by the political youth leaders, especially the NPP and the NDC. The violence takes place locally in some constituencies.
In addition to this, there were serious disagreements about the process of registering voters in the run up to the election and the integrity of the Electoral Commission was flawed in the eyes of the opposition. This deeply polarized all election stakeholders.
Up to the election, there were no common platforms in the various constituencies to settle misunderstandings between the parties and their supporters. All political parties in Ghana, big and small, have elaborate conflict resolution and peace-building mechanisms, but they all focus only on internal party disciplines. While there is the need to ensure that political parties institute internal mechanisms to regulate the behavior of their members and supporters, it is also important to have a common platform that will regulate members of political parties across board.
Peace boot camps for political youth leaders
To address these challenges, CDD-Ghana targeted the political youth in six selected hotspot constituencies with high risk of violence. The interventions built on thorough analysis and fed into already established peace-building structures by the National Peace Council. CDD-Ghana supplemented and filled the gaps by specifically working with the political youth leaders.
With support from DIPD and the Socialist People’s Party (SPP), CDD-Ghana organised Peace Boot Camps in the selected constituencies for youth leaders, mainly from the two dominant parties NDC and NPP.
Addressing violence and building political tolerance can be a sensitive issue. For this reason, CDD-Ghana developed a board game to engage participants in a more fun and interactive way. At the boot camps participants played the game to build their understanding of peaceful co-existence, implications of conflict and on issues of political tolerance. In addition to this, CDD-Ghana also facilitated the establishment of inter-party platforms to resolve conflicts between parties in the constituencies.
There were no violent outbreaks in any of the six constituencies CDD-Ghana held boot camps. Furthermore, the established platforms helped resolve conflicts and promote co-existence in the midst of competitive elections. This is quite an accomplishment as the six constituencies had some of the highest numbers of violent incidents during the 2016 election.
Peace boot camps held in six constituencies in Ghana
Ejura Sekyere Dumase
Evalue Ajomoro Gwira