Department of Sociology and Anthropology Organises 5th Annual Conference

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology has organised the fifth Annual Conference on Social Behaviour and Conflict Management with a call on government, security agencies and election stakeholders to ensure a peace in the upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in the country.

The 2016 edition of the conference was on the theme “Managing Electoral Conflicts in Ghana’s 2016 Elections: Prospects and Challenges.”

Speaking on the topic “Setting the Agenda for Peaceful, Free and Fair Elections, the Central Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, Mrs. Philomina Edusei said the commission would continue to engage all political parties and other stakeholders to ensure free and fair elections in the country. She noted that the Electoral Commission (EC) has put in place measures to improve on the conduct of this year’s election. Some of the measures include upgrading of the Biometric Verification Devices (BVD); recruitment of qualified and competent electoral officers; projection of election results at the constituency and replacement of the “strong room” with National Coalition Centre at the national level.

The second speaker for the conference, Dr. Bossman Asare who is the Head of the Department of Political Sciences, University of Ghana in his presentation on Voting Without Fear or Favour: the Security Services as Inevitable Imperatives" called on the State to create the enabling environment for free voting. “The security of the State lies in the domain of the State and this is the prime duty of the president,” he noted. He called on the security agencies to make security arrangements on the election day public and also advised political parties to follow laid down procedures.

Dr. Asare said the security services can effectively maintain peace in the country before, during and after elections if they collaborate with other election stakeholders. While recognising the challenges of voting in many emerging societies including Ghana, he made a strong case for mainstreaming of security services in an effort to ensure that the will of voters reflected in the outcome of the upcoming elections.

An International Conflict Management Expert, Dr. Joseph Kingsley Adjei in his presentation recommended non-partisan approach by the EC and the security services. He called for nonviolent and decorous behaviour on the part of political parties and their supporters to ensure free and fair elections. He spoke on the theme “Adding up or Falling Apart: Ghana’s Litmus Test in the 2016 Elections”. 

Dr. Adjei observed that the dynamics of the pre-election processes look quite gloomy when viewed against issues of mistrust between and among political parties saying “certain issues put the country’s election to litmus test and these include the appointment of the Chairperson of the EC, Voters registration which was characterised by irregularities and legality of voters particularly those who registered with National Health Insurance Cards".

The International Conflict Management Expert expressed worry about the polarised media space between the two major political parties and appealed to the National Media Commission to sanction media houses that violate the rules of the game.

Present at the Conference were the Provost, College of Humanities and Legal Studies, Prof. Stephen Kendie; Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Francis Amuquandoh; Head, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Dr. Brempong Osei Tutu.

Others were a cross section of personnel from the security services, Civil Society Groups and the University Community.