NPP, NDC urged to show commitment to disbandment of party militias

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), has asked the two major political parties to show strong commitment to processes of disbanding party militias as it held mediation on the matter today.

The meeting occasioned by the National Peace Council (NPC) followed an agreement reached by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) to have the Council intervene in the matter of political vigilantism which increasingly threatened the country’s democracy.

Launching a report on the menace in Accra yesterday, Chairperson of the Commission, Josephine Nkrumah charged the parties to “come to the mediation table in good faith and commit to processes of disbanding vigilantism”.

The lip service can no longer be tolerated. We are at a crossroad especially as the 2020 elections approaches and the parties must find a roadmap to really disband and uproot vigilantism from our political space. We don’t want rhetorics,” she stressed.

Ms Nkrumah further reiterated the Commission’s mandate to pursue the tenets of democracy “which we have all agreed to” and would not take chances in allowing vigilantism to destroy the country.

“Let us all with a new sense of vigour speak up against these acts as a matter of urgency because if we watch these groups continue their acts, 2020 would be chaos as the Inspector General of Police and other security personnel have alluded to,” she held.

The report, aimed at finding ways to curb the scourge of vigilantism in the country, captured the views of major stakeholders including political parties between October 2018 and February 2019.

It found factors including unemployment and vulnerability of the youth, the desire to settle past political scores, mutual mistrust between the two major political parties, lack of confidence in the Ghana Police Service (GPS) and other security agencies as well as the desire by political parties to win power at all possible cost as major causes of vigilante activities.

It recommended among others the immediate resourcing of institutions such as Small Arms and Light Weapons Commission to embark on a special exercise aimed at retrieving illegal arms in the hands of the vigilante groups.

The two major political parties, it directed, must identify and engage the ‘kingpins’ in their respective parties who sponsored ‘thugs’ to withdraw their support to such acts and rather channel them into gainful trade or employment of members of those groups.

The Commission again urged the GPS and Judiciary to up their game by prosecuting perpetrators of political vigilantism while collaborations are harnessed in identifying and registering members of such groups for purposes of reintegration and settlement.

Constitutional reforms, increased sensitisation, adequate resource allocation, review of composition and appointment of heads of security agencies as well as comprehensive job creation policy to address youth unemployment at all levels suggested by the NCCE in the report.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Thursday, February 21, 2019, called on the leadership of NPP and NDC to help find a lasting solution to the menace of political vigilantism in Ghana.

His call was premised on acts of vigilantism that took place during Thursday, January 31, 2019 by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, culminating into the formation of a commission of enquiry to look into the disturbances.

Though the NPP had written a letter to the NDC in effect to the President’s call, the opposition had insisted it would hold talks on the matter on condition that the NPC served as third party.

By Abigail Annoh

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