“The freedom to peacefully petition those in power without fear of arbitrary laws, those are not ideas of one country or one culture.
They are fundamental to human progress…..I believe a government that suppresses peaceful dissent is not showing strength; it is showing weakness and it is showing fear. History shows that regimes who fear their own people will eventually crumble, but strong institutions built on the consent of the governed endure long after any one individual is gone.”
These are excerpts of President Barack Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly a few days ago.
This guy appears to have directed his speech at his Ghanaian counterpart. Ghana is witnessing an unnecessary running battle between a pressure group and the law enforcement agency over the presentation of a petition to the Electoral Commission.
An earlier march was marred by a crazy assault on armless demonstrators, one of who lost an eye through a rubber bullet. The outright show of intolerance for dissent has deducted so much from the democracy record of the government, regrettably taking us back to the days of the culture of silence.
The whole confusion over whether to allow the demonstrators to present the petition to the Electoral Commission or not is underpinned by fear on the part of the government – a manifestation of a weakness.
The fear of demonstrations by the government is amazing. Notices of such protests, something allowed in the constitution, always get government scuttling for cover and the unfurling of all manner of excuses why they should not take place.
Pointing at the arrival of some robotic armed robbers from outer space – call them aliens from Mars – to come and invade us here in Accra sounds so simplistic for a reason why a demonstration should not take place.
Such display of fear in the face of peaceful demonstrations does not show a strong government in place. And the US President was right on point in his speech.
The law enforcement agency has been the talk of the country when after a court had given the green light for the Let My Vote Count pressure group to go and present a petition to the Electoral Commission, they quickly obtained another one placing an injunction on the proposed demonstration.
Various legal interpretations have been proffered for the development, the bottom-line of which is that something was fundamentally flawed about the procedure.
Be it as it may, we think that the subject would not have triggered so much but for the manner in which it has been handled so far.
The right to dissent in our part of the world is so incessantly breached by those in authority that it would appear that it has no place in the country’s Constitution.
A continuous show of fear of the people by the government will soon lead to its demise; this is a fact of history.
Source: editorial/daily guide
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