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Commission of Enquiry must end political violence

BY: Daily Graphic
Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election Violence
Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election Violence

It is refreshing that sections of society and groups have condemned the violence that characterised last Thursday’s by-election in Accra which resulted in injury to some people.

Many of the groups that have condemned the violence and gunshots that occurred during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election also called on the government to launch full-scale investigations into the disturbances that almost marred the election of a Member of Parliament (MP) to complete the unfinished term of the late New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for the area, Emmanuel Kyeremateng Agyarko.

We believe that it is in the light of this that the acting President, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, has, with the consent of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, set up a Commission of Enquiry to come up with all the answers to the nagging questions and also assist in bringing the perpetrators to book.

While the Daily Graphic has no issues with the keenness with which contesting individuals and political parties have approached by-elections held in the country, there is so much to be worried about in respect of the trend of violence that has persisted during such elections since 1992.

It is time for us, as a country, to sit up and deal with the issues that bring about the violence and not take the peace we enjoy for granted. That is the only way we can grow our democracy.

We find it unacceptable that a look back at by-elections held since Ghana took to the democratic path in 1992 shows that there was violence in Wulensi on February 20, 2003; Akwatia in August 2009; Chereponi during a rally held on September 27, 2009; Atiwa on August 31, 2010; Talensi on July 7, 2015 and Amenfi West on December 15, 2015.

The violence that occurred during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 31, 2019 must be the wake-up call to all Ghanaians and political parties, the state security apparatus and individuals to resolve never again to nurse or entertain violence during elections.

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Many countries in the West African sub-region, as well as the world’s advanced democracies, are looking up to Ghana to remain the beacon of hope for democracy and example to other countries still struggling to bring sanity into their politics and governance systems and we cannot afford to fail ourselves and our admirers.

Already, the Ayawaso West Wuogon disturbances have put a dent on our credentials and we have to work hard at correcting the wrong impression we may have carried to other countries, especially when the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections are just around the corner.

This is why we wish to urge the three-member committee that has been set up “to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to, the events and associated violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election” not to fail.

The Daily Graphic encourages all who may be called before the commission, chaired by a former CHRAJ boss, Mr Justice Emile Short, to cooperate fully to enable it to submit, within one month, its report consisting of findings and recommendations, including appropriate sanctions, to the President.

Nothing much has come out of similar commissions or committees set up to investigate violent acts during previous elections, but it is our hope that the Emile Short Commission of Enquiry will be able to put paid to the recurring smack in the face of our otherwise exemplary democracy.

That is the only way we can move forward. We can’t fail. We must sanction all culprits and end the violence! This may help us to end political vigilantism.