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Political violence, vigilantism: President calls for truce! … orders NPP, NDC to dialogue to end political vigilantism

THE Minority in Parliament is skeptical about President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s commitment to ending political party vigilantism in the country. 

According to the caucus, President Akufo-Addo’s declaration that he abhorred party thuggery was a smoke-screen.

President Akufo-Addo at the presentation of the State of the Nation Address in Accra yesterday called on the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to meet and agree on appropriate measures to nip political vigilantism in the bud. 

“If voluntary disbandment by the parties is not feasible, then I will initiate a legislation on the matter,” President Akufo-Addo told a near full Parliament to cheers from the Majority and jeers from the Minority. 

The activities of political party vigilantes has been at the centre of national discourse following a bloody violence which characterised the January 31, 2019 by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency of the Greater Accra Region. 

That incident was followed by the shooting of two members of the NDC by assailants in Kumasi which left one person dead.

According to President Akufo-Addo, “what was tolerated over the past years cannot and must not be accepted anymore,” he said calling on the leadership of the two leading parties to “come together shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand” and be guided by the words of the national anthem which enjoins citizens to be steadfast in building the country. 

But the Minority is not convinced by the assurances of the President to end the phenomenon which many fear could spell doom for the country in the 2020 general elections. 

Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi, MP, Ketu North, in an interview with the Ghanaian Times said: “I do not believe in the President’s words but I hope that he does what he said.”

“If you have a group that works for your party, do not use that group to terrorise anybody. But if the President says we should disband all these groups, he must set the example by starting to disband the vigilante groups that they have and once he starts as the President of this country,the rest will follow.”

Responding to declaration by the President that Ghana was in safe hands, Mr Avedzi differs. 

“We are not in safe hands. Anywhere I go, I am afraid because people can be in police uniforms and vehicles but they may not be police so that tells you that Ghana is not safe,” he said and charged President Akufo-Addo to be more pragmatic in dealing with the security of the state. 

However, the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery said President Akufo-Addo’s commitment to ending political vigilantism and a peaceful Ghana was unmatched. 

“His genuineness has been very consistent. He actually wants this country to be a country of rule of law to consolidate its credentials as the oasis of peace and as an icon of democratic rule on the continent,” Mr Dery said as he recounted violence that have characterised other by-elections in the past. 

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the People’s National Convention, Bernard Mornah said President Akufo-Addo does not need the approval or otherwise of the two leading parties to disband political militia groups in the country. 

“What the President is admitting is that law and order does not work as far as NPP and NDC are concerned. The President must not come and announce this to the world. 

“The President must let the laws work. The NDC and NPP are not the laws of Ghana. President Akufo-Addo does not need a legislation in dealing with political thuggery,” Mr Mornah who was in the House to observe the presentation of the address told the Ghanaian Times

In his view, all that the President needed was to give assurance and confidence to the police that they could act and deal with the matter; by so doing, the Police will be able to arrest and try people for engaging in thuggery. 

BY YAW KYEI AND JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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