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Include int’l groups in mediation processes to end political vigilantism – Dr Aning

The Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Dr Kwesi Aning, has proposed the inclusion of international organisations in the mediation processes to end political vigilantism in the country.

He explained that the phenomenon was deeply ingrained in the country’s political sphere and as such would require an “honest broker” which could be in the form of international groups including the United Nations (UN), working with the political actors to tackle the problem.

“Political vigilantism is born out of lack of trust in the various security agencies. The two parties have been in power and know what government does to the security set-up. In opposition, they know what the government can do and this creates a sense of insecurity, resulting in the arming and training of militias. In this case, it is not out of place to bring in an international group as the honest broker to help in the trust-building process and a mediator,” he stated.

Dr Aning said these yesterday in Accra when he appeared before the Commission of Inquiry on the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence as a witness.

He said exit timelines and legislation, as proffered by President Nana Akufo-Addo to tackle the menace, was not sustainable and would not be effective in clamping down on political vigilantism.

“The trust building process will take some time. We need a sober long term process in which trust is created first and then afterwards we begin the disaggregation process that takes a lot of time. Legislation and exit timelines is an easy way out which will not bring out the desired results. Let us rather build trust between the political parties and allow statutory security agencies to do their work,” he stated.

On the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency by-election violence on January 31, Dr Aning stated that the incident showed lack of coordination in decision making in the national security space which throws a dim on the nation’s international reputation of respect for human right.

The solutions preferred in ending political vigilantism, according to him, have been “comical” so far, and urged for delegitimisation of political violence in the various societies as a start in tackling the phenomenon.

In order to deal with growing cases of violence, he said better security literacy and better security management was necessary and suggested the designing of a threat template to help in determining the country’s security needs.

This, he explained would be successful if persons with capacity and skill sets were appointed on security councils and build a focus on the mechanisms of extremist groups.

Dr Aning stated that there was currently gross misunderstanding about the role of the National Security Council and urged for a focus on intelligence gathering.

Responding to queries on possible recruitment of vigilante groups into the national security, the security expert said lack of coordination between security agencies and provision of equipment and weapons to quasi non-statutory groups to undertake security operation undermines the statutory security agencies.

With the proliferation of arms in the country and porous borders, he said the violent groups have become organised, willing and prepared to take on the state powers.

Presently, the Ashanti Region has become an entry point for smuggling and distribution of guns in the sub-region, noting that there was an immense collusion between gun smugglers and those to be protected, Dr Aning added.

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