Former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has observed that vigilantism remains an existential threat to Ghana's democracy.
According to him, although the National Peace Council and other actors have taken commendable steps towards dealing with vigilantism through the passage of the Vigilante Act, more needs to be done to achieve the desired impact.
Dr Chambas was speaking at the opening of a three-day National Stakeholders' Dialogue on countering Post-2020 Election Violence and Building Consensus for Greater Political Tolerance in Ghana held at Ada last Tuesday.
The dialogue was organised by the National Peace Council with support from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Dr Chambas said to achieve the needed impact, the Vigilante Act had to be implemented to deal with persons who might want to engage in electoral disputes.
He said electoral disputes, like all other disputes, were a natural occurrence, as such it was also essential that a timely dispute resolution mechanism existed to deal with such disputes.
"Where stakeholders are confident that their grievances will be heard with a fair resolution, the likelihood of turning to violence will be reduced,” he said.
He said to enable the country to tackle the growing and worrying trend of electoral violence, the longstanding unresolved grievances or sentiments of exclusion and disenfranchisement, whether real or perceived, must be addressed.
Dr Chambas also noted that young people, across the globe, were becoming more demanding and assertive of their rights, adding that they were making legitimate demands of their governments.
According to him, this renewed youthful enthusiasm came with an opportunity and a threat.
He said there was the opportunity to harness the youthful exuberance for national development to ensure a peaceful society.
He, however, indicated that the threats would remain, if the youth were not supported to channel their exuberance into productive ventures.
According to him, vigilantes and other organised groups were targeting such disillusioned young people to recruit them for violence.
Dr Chambas tasked the National Peace Council and all stakeholders to take deliberate steps to ensure that young people were integrated into whatever they were doing.
Dr Chambas said electoral processes that were not inclusive and transparent could reinforce real or perceived inequalities or marginalisation that fuel violence.