The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference has called on the leadership of all political parties to exhibit a high degree of statesmanship by accepting the outcome of the December 7, 2012 polls as declared by the Electoral Commission (EC).
The call comes on the heels of the historic signing of a peace pact by the eight presidential candidates in Kumasi on Tuesday. In signing, the candidates committed to avoid all manner of acts, including impunity, injustice and violence, that could throw the country into confusion before, during and after the elections.
In a pastoral letter on the forthcoming general election, the bishops advised political leaders and their supporters "to be magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat".
"Losing candidates and parties in a free and fair election should not find it difficult to concede or accept defeat. Good losers are peacemakers. Good losers also command respect," the letter read, adding that it is only when power stands under God's blessing that it can be trusted.
"Invariably, losing parties become the minority in Parliament to serve as a check on government policies and performance through constructive criticism. Both the minority and the government should have one common aim, which is the realisation of the common good of Ghanaians, and therefore respect the declaration by the EC," it said.
The letter, signed by the President of the conference, the Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, offers a Christian perspective on a credible electoral process and responsible, accountable leadership that recalls the church’s obligation to teach moral values that shape lives.
It declared a week of prayers and Holy Mass to be offered from December 1 to 8, 2012 for peaceful elections at all Marian shrines, churches and outstations.
It also urged political parties and media houses to desist from declaring rival results of the elections at any given moment.
"The EC is the only constitutional body mandated to declare official results of elections. Let us all respect that. In addition, we call on political parties to restrain their membership from reacting violently to election results and instead use due process of the law to address grievances," the letter said.
It urged all citizens, as well as the various institutions and organisations, to help the government and minority parties by making their own contributions to national growth and development in the spirit of social solidarity.
It further admonished Ghanaians to continue to join forces to build the country in the spirit of togetherness even after the official declaration of results.
"As we get closer to the December elections, we urge all to think Ghana first. Our forebears sacrificed to bring our country to this position. It is now our turn. The unity and stability of Ghana should be paramount in all we do. We owe it to ourselves and to posterity to safeguard the electoral process for the peace and stability of our dear country Ghana," it said.
The letter urged all Ghanaians, particularly Catholics, to support the process with their prayers and pray that the "leaders we choose lead us in Godly ways."
It expressed the hope that the 2012 electoral process would "build us up as a nation, establish us in God's peace and continue to make Ghana the beacon of hope to our dear continent of Africa."
It reminded Ghanaians that Ghana was perceived as a functional African democracy and model stable state, having successfully managed five consecutive and smooth general elections and political transitions.
"While admitting the fact that successive elections have always been an improvement on previous ones, and that Ghana is gradually becoming adept at credible elections and transitions, we wish also to state that emerging challenges in the current political environment are beginning to undermine our confidence.
"We cannot overlook the various incidents of seizure and destruction of ballot boxes, assault on security agents and electoral officials, intemperate language and physical attacks on political opponents which occurred during the last elections and have characterized our political discourse lately,” the letter concluded.