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NPP, NDC must disband vigilante groups

BY: Severious Kale-Dery
 Members of the team with some religious leaders from DR Congo with Mr Martin Madidi Fayulu (7th right), the man challenging the validity of the general elections
Members of the team with some religious leaders from DR Congo with Mr Martin Madidi Fayulu (7th right), the man challenging the validity of the general elections

The immediate past General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, has called on the leadership of the two main political parties in the country to assure Ghanaians of their commitment to democratic rule by openly disbanding vigilante groups in their camps.

“The New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) must allow Ghana's democracy to work.

Ghana must offer democratic and electoral best practices to other countries on the continent,” he said.

Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong made the call in an interview on his return from the Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo at the invitation by the All African Conference of Churches (ACC) to join seven other eminent African religious leaders to restore peace and foster reconciliation in that country, currently embroiled in political strife.

DR Congo experience

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What I saw in the DR Congo was nothing good to write home about and the politicians and Ghanaians in general needed to do everything to protect and prevent the country from slipping into any anarchy because people wanted political power.

“Ghana must learn from the 'unfortunate story' of DR Congo,” Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong stated, adding that it was important that Ghana cherished and protected the democracy and did not allow the action and inaction of a section of the politicians and individuals to throw the country into political turmoil.

Say no

Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong contended that the two main political parties were beneficiaries of the activities of political vigilante groups and the time had come for all Ghanaians to rise “and say no to vigilantism in this country”.

He emphasised that the various vigilante groups should not just be disbanded, but also be disarmed, describing vigilantism as a threat to Ghana’s democracy, which should not be tolerated.

He warned that it should be possible for Ghanaians to boycott the 2020 General Election if the vigilante groups were not banned and that he would not hesitate to lead any campaign to boycott the general election if the vigilante groups were not disbanded.

Dr Opuni-Frimpong blamed the NDC and NPP “for giving legitimacy to such hoodlums” to perpetrate violence during elections.

The ACC Peace and Reconciliation team

The team, known as the All African Conference of Churches Peace and Reconciliation team, is made up of members from Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Benin, Kenya, Congo and Ghana.

The team is mandated by the ACC to pursue post-election peace and reconciliation in the DR Congo, where the leader of the main opposition party, Engagement for Citizenship and Development Party (ECDP), Mr Martin Madidi Fayulu, is disputing the general election which declared the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP), Mr Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, winner.

Religious leaders are working towards bringing all factions together for a national thanksgiving church service. Issues of peace, truth and justice are being discussed.

By-election violence

Referring to the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong described the incident as unfortunate and unacceptable in a democratic State like Ghana, insisting that those people should be tracked down for the law to take its rightful course.

He urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to take immediate action to deal with those who were clearly seen molesting innocent Ghanaians in the video, while waiting for the Justice Emile Short Commission’s report.

“If we have chosen democracy, people must be free to go and vote without intimidation or cohesion.

“And you are going to vote and you see masked people with ‘kaka motobi’ around and you expect people to go and vote?” Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong queried.

Work of the team so far

On the visit to DR Congo, Dr Opuni-Frimpong said the team had already visited the outgoing Prime Minister of DR Congo, Mr Bruno Chibala Nzenze, the UN Country Representative to DR Congo, Leila Xerrougui, the chairman of the Electoral Commission, religious leaders, youth and women groups, among others.

“Religious leaders are at the moment working towards bringing all factions together for a national thanksgiving church service. Issues of peace, truth and justice are being discussed,” he told the Daily Graphic.