Peace Council upbeat about progress in efforts to end vigilantism
The Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, Chairman of National Peace Council (NPC), has expressed optimism about progress in efforts at ending political vigilantism.
This comes as the leaders of two major political parties – the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) gathered at Peduase in the Eastern Region to discuss ways to draw a line under the cycle of political violence associated with elections in the country.
This was the second time they were meeting to attempt to find a common ground on how to rein in vigilante groups aligned with their parties.
The Rev Prof Asante said the “Council is confident that the leadership of the NPP and the NDC, who have enjoyed the trust of our people to rule since the beginning of the fourth republic, will reflect on Ghana’s journey to freedom and come to the inevitable conclusion that our only alternative in the midst of a vicious impediment, vigilantism, is to unite with a renewed and common determination against the phenomenon, because it is fast eroding our hard won democratic gains.
We cannot allow vigilantism to become a permanent feature in Ghanaian politics.”
Speaking at the opening of the meeting he said “we must prevail over this threat, strive to ensure equity in politics, and show respect to each other and to the processes that we have designed collectively to guide decision-making in this country".
This, he added, was fundamental to proper functioning of any democratic society.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament on February 21, called for the leadership of the two parties to work together to disband their vigilante groups.
He added that he would introduce a legislation to end the menace should the parties fail to break up those groups.
Mr. Freddie Blay, the National Chairman of the NPP, and Mr. John Boadu, the General Secretary, led the ruling party’s delegation to the talks.
That of the opposition NDC was headed by Mr. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, the National Chairman and Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the General Secretary.
The Rev Prof Asante said a communiqué issued at the end of their first meeting gave hope to Ghanaians that their leaders were ready to eliminate, once and for all, party vigilante activities.
The Peduase meeting was to continue from where they left off - brainstorm and exchange ideas on possible ways of working together to eradicate vigilantism in politics.
"We owe it to our people, to live up to the values and aspirations that propelled our forebears to fight for the freedoms that we currently enjoy, and probably even take for granted", he said.
"We are known to be a country that respects the rule of law and the fundamental freedoms clearly spelt out in our constitution.
We aspire to have a nation that is committed to making our freedoms meaningful by dismantling all barriers to peace, equality, and socio-economic deprivation."
He reminded the political leadership, especially the NPP and the NDC, that they had a responsibility to contribute to the fulfilment of that aspiration.
"Vigilantism, no matter its apparent appeal is an affront to the people of Ghana, a reprehensible stigma on our flourishing democracy, poor example to the younger generations and a betrayal of those who have sacrificed their resources and even, lives, to place Ghana on the map as a beacon of peace and hope."
Mr. Blay and Mr. Ofosu-Ampofo pledged their commitment to end political vigilantism.