The National Peace Council (NPC), under the Chairmanship of the Most Reverend Prof. Emmanuel Asante, is scheduled to meet with the two leading political parties — the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) — on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 to mediate in the matter of political vigilantism in the country.
The meeting follows a consensus reached by the NPP and NDC to make the NPC the mediator in the matter of political vigilantism that has become a matter of prime national security concern.
A letter signed by the acting Executive Secretary of the NPC, Mr George Amoh, and addressed to the NDC, a copy of which was sighted by the Daily Graphic, stated the venue for the meeting as the Central Hotel, near the British High Commission in Accra.
According to the letter, basically the meeting would focus on terms of engagement and ground rules.
The letter further stated that for effective discussions, each party was expected to bring not more than seven representatives and concluded that draft copies of the documents that would form the basis of discussions would be forwarded to the party in due course before the meeting.
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 the two main leading political parties to help find a lasting solution to the menace of political vigilantism in Ghana.
The Ayawaso West Wuogon violence
The President’s call followed acts of vigilantism that took place during the Thursday, January 31, 2019 by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency which culminated in the formation of a Commission of Enquiry by the President, under the headship of Justice Francis Emile Short, to look into the disturbances and provide recommendations on the way forward.
President Akufo-Addo expressed the optimism that the findings of the three-member Emile Short Commission of Enquiry into the shooting incident that characterised the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election would help prevent future occurrences of politically related violence orchestrated by party vigilante groups.
According to the President, citizens and future generations would not forgive the current leaders if they sat aloof for the country’s peace to be undermined by politically related violence.
He said he had personally asked the leadership of the NPP to write to the NDC so that they could, together, plan a meeting to find ways to end the increasing threats of political vigilantism in the country.
He said failure of the leadership of the two major political parties to end politically related violence as a result of vigilantism would compel him to initiate a Legislative Instrument to end the practice.
NDC’s reaction, President’s rebuttal
In a letter by the NDC Chairman, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, the NDC welcomed the call by President Akufo-Addo for a joint meeting between the two main political parties to fashion out solutions to end political party thuggery. He, however, said they were “aware that the Commission [of Enquiry tasked to probe the Ayawaso West Wuogon by election violence] established clearly that elements of the vigilante groups apparently sponsored by your party have already been absorbed into the national security system”.
Responding to the NDC’s letter, President Akufo-Addo said in a letter dated March 4, 2019 that the assertion by the opposition party was not true.
“First, contrary to your assertion, no evidence has been established at the ongoing Short Commission about the sponsorship by the New Patriotic Party of vigilantes into the national security system. No such sponsorship has taken place, and none will take place. In any event, it is surely prejudicial to the work of the commission for citizens to start drawing conclusions on the material before the commission, prior to the commission making its own findings and recommendations on the matter,” President Akufo-Addo noted.
He further indicated that the NPP had no plans to employ the services of party militia in the upcoming general election in 2020.
“Second, neither the government nor the ruling New Patriotic Party has made any plans to ‘recruit party thugs for the 2020 general election’.
No such directive has been given, nor will any such directive be given, and no such recruitment is taking place. Neither the New Patriotic Party nor I needs political party thugs to win the 2020 election. We will do so on the basis of our record, our argument and our values.”
The NDC subsequently posited that the National Peace Council mediates the discussions between the two political parties and other stakeholders.
In furtherance to that, the General Secretary of the NPP, Mr John Boadu, in a letter to the chairman of the National Peace Council, agreed to the NDC’s request to have the NPC mediate the meeting but stressed the need for the two parties to meet first and agree on the modalities for the engagement.
Consequently, the NPC, in a letter dated March 25, 2019, wrote to the NDC indicating that it had received a letter from the NPP in which it had agreed to the NDC’s suggestion that the NPC mediates the meeting between the two parties and gave an assurance that it would come up with a schedule for the planned engagement.