Participants in a day’s workshop have appealed to the government to empower the Small Arms Commission to effectively monitor arms import, the renewal of arms import licences and accountability of arms acquisition and distribution.
They also urged the security agencies to apply the laws governing the abuse of arms without fear or favour. The appeal followed the disclosure that out of 2.3 million weapons in circulation in the country, only about one million of them were registered with the Ghana Police Service.
It followed a survey conducted for the commission by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.
The participants, made up of representatives of four political parties, made the appeal in an 11-point communique issued at the end of the workshop on political parties’ dialogue on armed violence, at the Forest Hotel in Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region.
The objective was for the workshop to provide a platform for the political parties to discuss the role that they could play in ensuring that the 2016 general election was free of armed violence.
Participating political parties
Political parties that participated in the workshop were the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the People’s National Convention (PNC) and the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP).
The participants further called on the security agencies to block illicit arms supply routes in order to curtail the flow of illicit weapons into the country. They called on political parties to desist from the use of militant pressure groups in the build-up to the 2016 general election.
They also called for “effective collaboration between the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), to ensure the peaceful conduct of the 2016 elections and to further enhance our democracy.”
The participants stressed the need to revisit the issue of state support for political parties through the IPAC. They urged leaders of the various political parties to educate their supporters to desist from using small arms and rather encourage dialogue in resolving any political dispute.
Role of political parties
Welcoming the participants, the Board Chairman of the National Commission on Small Arms, Brigadier Gen. Francis Agyemfra (Retd), predicted another watershed general election in 2016 as part of the country’s democratic experiment.
He said already entrenched positions seemed to have been adopted by the major political parties, especially on the issue of the voters register.
Brigadier General Agyemfra said the by-election in Talensi recently was a wake-up call to all Ghanaians, particularly the security agencies and political parties, adding, “the recent recovery of assault rifles from the Bimbilla conflict, and numerous others from various crime scenes, must put all of us on the lookout for probable triggers of armed violence.”