Trading peace for elections

EDITORIAL 20 Nov 2019
Trading peace  for elections

A presidential decree issued on Sunday, November 10 fixed February 9, 2020, for the Legislative and Municipal elections. It is just too obvious that, the head of state wants to remain true to the letter and spirit of the constitution, which allows him the prerogative of extending the mandate of both bodies. He has used this prerogative to extend the mandates twice. In this regard, he did exercise his powers in due compliance with the provisions of the constitution. In the recent decree, he seems not to be disposed for a third extension.
We are aware that it would be unconstitutional for the president to enforce another extension of the mandate. This is where we can understand his concern. He does not seem to be prepared to be dancing on one spot for too long. He wants things to move in accordance with the law. On this, we agree totally but we strongly believe there is a way out, if only the head of state puts the much desired peace and the elections on the balance. Surprise will be that he would certainly realise that the former weighs more than the latter. The option of peace is inevitable.
This may have prompted the dispatch of the post Dialogue peace caravan to the North West and South west headed by Christian cardinal Tumi and bishop Andrew Nkea respectively. Nothwistanding the very good motives behind these missions we believe its timimg, when elections have already been called, easily lead to misinterpretations.
With due regard for the need for a credible and peaceful elections this time around, we would suggest that a bill for a minor amendment of the constitution be tabled in Parliament to empower the head of state to extend the mandate for at least, another six months. With the current efforts being exerted, in the hope of resolving the crisis, it is very likely that, within this period we can strike the peace cord and chances are that we can make it with less stress this time around.
It is pertinent at this stage therefore to remind the President that, he faces the greatest challenge of restoring peace in the two English speaking regions of the country. There is no doubt that these two regions constitute part of the overhaul country over which elections have been billed for early next year. He also faces the challenge of cleansing the soiled record of the last presidential elections, in which, allegations of electoral malpractices, especially in the two regions rocked by crisis tend to paint a blurred picture of the whole process.
We are talking here of allegations which stem from grounds that free and fair elections could not have been conducted in these two war-torn regions, with the results showing such an overwhelming victory for the incumbent, when thousands of voters are either in the bushes, on exile out of the country or just internally displaced to other towns within the country. We are also talking of allegations of massive fraud which have provoked violent protests and demonstrations in parts of the country, resulting in arrests and incarcerations.
The simple logic is that, for us to witness free and fair elections, the ground must be levelled. Under the present circumstances, it requires peace even more to achieve this goal. So much is still being expected from the dialogue. For the war-torn two English speaking regions, the content of the Special Status is still to be declared. There is too much loss of faith in the current electoral code which needs to be revisited, and this, the head of state must never ignore for, no matter how long the regime and the ruling party will continue to defend the present electoral law, it remains a discarded element that has infiltrated our entire democratic process.
There is no doubt that opposition parties have held their patience in riding all along on a bad law in past successive elections and complaining at the same time, probably with the hope that the regime will see reason in their complaints. If there is one cry against one particular thing, it simply calls for the need to look into it and see where things have gone wrong. We do not want to believe that the regime’s intransigence is deliberately intended to put the opposition out of business. The weaknesses of the current electoral law are evident. For the sake of fair play, let us embark on improving on the bad things that stand on our way, and for once, let us look forward to the future and consider our ways. The timing is certainly not the best for an election.

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