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Mahama: I’ll not retract “do or die” comment

The former president says those criticising him for making a comment about “do or die” lack an understanding of English-language idioms

John Dramani Mahama, the former president, has said that, despite the huge public backlash, he still stands by his comment that Election 2024 will be a “do-or-die” affair at the polling station.

“The election will be won or lost at the polling station, so at the polling station it will be ‘do or die’. I did not say ‘All die be die’, I said it will be do or die, because the right thing must be done,” Mahama said on Tuesday, provoking many reactions calling on him to retract.

However, speaking on the Sunyani-based Moonlite FM on Wednesday, the 2020 National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer said his remarks had been taken out of context and that he would not retract the comments.

“… They don’t understand ‘do or die’. ‘Do or die’ is an English idiom,” Mahama explained. “In Africa, we have many proverbs and we sometimes don’t say things in the straight format: we use proverbs. In English, we have idiomatic expressions.

“Those who left school early don’t understand idiomatic expressions. ‘Do or die’ means a critical assignment you have, and so you must do the needful or perish.”

He added: “What I mean is that the NDC should not wait and go back to the Supreme Court. Whatever has to be done at the polling stations and collation centres must be done. And so I don’t retract: the next election for NDC is going to be a do-or-die affair.

“I’m telling all our party executives that you must be at the polling station to make sure that the right thing is done.

“Don’t abdicate your responsibility at that level and expect that after somebody has stolen the election we’ll go to Supreme Court to see if they would turn the election for us, they won’t do it.”

Stop beating war drums

The pollster Ben Ephson has urged the political parties to invest more in training polling station agents to monitor elections effectively.

His advice follows Tuesday’s comment by John Mahama that the 2024 election will be a “do-or-die affair” at the polling station.

Speaking to Beatrice Adu on The Big Bulletin, Ephson said: “If you are a political party and you go and take a half-educated human being who has no link to your party, and you tell the person, ‘I will give you GHC200 to be my polling station agent.’

“You give him GHC100 and tell him that at the end of the day, you will bring him an extra GHC100. At 2.30pm your opponent at the polling station gives him double what you promised him and they ask him to sign the pink sheet and leave before voting ends and he does it. Why will you be crying?”

Ephson added: “That is what they do. So you don’t need to kill anybody: you just need to train 50,000 … if it’s 45,000 polling stations, 5,000 on standby.”

The security analyst Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar of the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCE) also charged the political parties to preach peace in the lead-up to the next election.

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