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Despite the security challenges posed by party vigilante groups in the country, especially during elections, the relevant state agencies can rein them in to ensure they do not cause any confusion in the 2016 presidential elections, argues David Agbey, a security analyst.
Such groups, notably the Bamba Boys, Azoka Boys, Kandahar Boys, Taliban, and the Invincible Forces, belong mainly to Ghana’s foremost political parties – the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) – ostensibly to offer protection to party officials and police party events. But they have been noted for election-related thuggery, including the snatching of ballot boxes, and brutalising political opponents.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), John Kudalor, has stated his desire to outlaw such groups ahead of the November polls in his quest to act on possible violence before, during, and after voting day.
At the opening session of a National Police Command conference in Accra Friday June 24, Interior Minister Prosper Bani reiterated the call, saying: “You must respond to security challenges in a way that will enhance our national image. Of the greatest importance is the need to keep an eye on the so-called private security forces that are increasingly being linked to political parties.
“We cannot afford to leave the safety and security of this country and its people in the hands of faceless individuals and groups.”
And in an interview on Accra News Saturday June 25, 2016, Mr Agbey expressed a similar view, stating that considering the havoc such groups had wreaked on other countries, they could replicate that disorder in Ghana.
He blamed the IGP and the Interior Minister for failing to crush party vigilante groups at the nascent stages, wondering why they looked on for them to “gain root” and “grow teeth”, what with their training and security drills, before wishing to declare action on them. The security analyst also referred to the recent Talensi by-election where the police failed to make arrests despite vigilante groups unleashing violence in the area with machetes, guns, and whips.
The situation notwithstanding, Mr Agbey believed all was not lost yet for security agencies to act.
“It may not be too late. They must engage the political parties more, so the vigilante groups which have proliferated…they speak to them not to misconduct themselves in the elections,” he suggested to Nana Ama Agyarko.
“So such groups, if we do not rein them in, during elections they will be invading communities in party vehicles to cause mayhem.”
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