After years of back-and-forth movements, the journey towards the disbandment of vigilante groups in the country's political space took shape yesterday with a historic meeting between the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the two parties at the centre of vigilantism.
The crunch meeting, which lasted more than five hours, with the National Peace Council (NPC) as the referee, was meant to establish the rules of engagement and the modalities for disbanding the vigilante groups.
It came on the heels of a call by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to the NPP and the NDC in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to Parliament on February 21, this year to take immediate steps to disband their vigilante groups.
The meeting has gone down as one of the major milestones towards a clampdown on vigilantism in the political space, especially when both parties had previously taken entrenched positions on the road map for the disbandment of the groups.
High-powered delegations from both parties participated in the closed-door meeting, which was chaired by Nana Dr S. K. B. Asante, a member of the NPC and Omanhene of the Asokore Traditional Area in the Ashanti Region.
The delegation from the NPP was led by its National Chairman, Mr Freddie Blay, and included kingpins of the party such as the General Secretary, Mr John Boadu; the National Organiser, Mr Sammy Awuku; the Minister for Regional Re-organisation and Development, Mr Dan Botwe; the Communications Director, Mr Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, and a member of the communications team, Mr Gary Nimako.
The NDC delegation was led by the National Chairman of the party, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, with the General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, as his able lieutenant.
Other members were a former Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Bani; a former National Security Minister, Mr Kofi Totobi Kwakye; as well as the party's lawyers, Mr Abraham Amaliba and Nana Ato Dadzie.
Among notable members of the NPC at the meeting were the Presiding Archbishop and General Overseer of the Action Chapel International, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-William, and a former National Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Professor Opoku Onyinah.
Terms of reference
Although the meeting was held behind closed-doors, information gathered by the Daily Graphic indicated that the NPC tabled some terms of reference for the disbandment of vigilante groups and requested the parties to commit to those arrangements.
One of the terms of agreement was for the political parties to help identify all groups which engage in acts of violence and intimidation for political purposes in the country.
The NPC also sought to secure the undertaking of the parties to take the necessary steps to prohibit the ownership, hiring or utilisation of such groups by the parties or their members.
The terms of engagement also required the parties to cooperate with agencies and stakeholders for the total eradication of such groups or incidents of vigilantism in the country.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting said the parties had agreed that vigilantism was inimical to the country’s democracy and ought to be tackled head-on.
“With respect to the immediate focus of the mediation or dialogue,