Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Ghana, and Head of the Youth Bridge Research Institute, Professor Ransford Edward Van Gyampo, has cautioned political actors to desist from whipping up tribalistic and ethnic sentiments in their bid to canvass votes in the run-up to the December polls.
He believes this practice will only deepen the already existing polarised political landscape and undermine the needed cohesion for national development.
“Whipping up ethnic and tribalistic claims does not inure to the benefit of any effort at developing a country…because it brings about division. No nation can develop when its people are sharply divided on ethnic and partisan lines,” Prof Gyampo, who is also the Head of Youth Bridge Research Institute told GhanaWeb in an exclusive interview.
His comments come on the back of recent media reports of voter suppression and intimidation at some registration centres in border communities across the country.
These reported cases became the new avenue of campaigning for the two main political parties, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).
In a bid to register their displeasure about the just-ended registration process, the NDC used these cases as basis to accuse the governing party of conniving with security agencies and the Electoral Commission to disenfranchise registrants on ethnic lines.
This, the ruling party did not take any lightly. In a sharp rebuttal they also questioned the nationality of the general secretary of the opposition party and accused the NDC of rather whipping up tribal sentiments to their advantage.
In light of this, Professor Gyampo observed that in the lead up to elections in poor developing countries like Ghana, politicians tend to engage in several forms of tribal politics with the aim of canvassing support. But this, according to him, must not be allowed to fester as the nation grows in its electoral contestation.
Professor Gyampo expressed disappointment about KT Hammond’s recent tribal and ethnic comments about the Ketu South people, prior to the voter registration exercise.
“In Ghana, it seems that politicians tend to sometime in the lead up to elections they want to whip up ethnic and tribal sentiments. It’s something that is unacceptable but the whole thing gained momentum when one top official of the ruling party KT Hammond made some comments about people of Ketu South…”
He added that “It is needless, we don’t have to play tribal cards in this crucial period in which we find ourselves…”
He noted that the 2020 election and the period in the lead up to it, must be characterized by a healthy contest of ideas and core bread and butter issues confronting Ghanaians. He called on Ghanaians to shun, name and shame incompetent politicians who lack convincing message and would only whip up ethnic sentiments. He added that “Ghanaians must make it difficult for “message-less” politicians to whip up ethnic sentiments in the lead up to the elections, by openly condemning such tendencies and voting against those who openly engage in similar acts that could deepen the polarization of Ghana’s body politic”