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Scrap by-elections to avoid tensions — Nii Arde Tagoe

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
Nii Arde Tagoe — Head of the Nii Arde Nkpa family
Nii Arde Tagoe — Head of the Nii Arde Nkpa family

A Traditional leader, Nii Arde Tagoe, has called for a constitutional amendment to cancel the conduct of by-elections among political parties to avoid the violence associated with such elections.

He said “just as the case of a President where his vice is made to complete the unfinished tenure, if a Member of Parliament (MP) dies or resigns, the MP's political party should be allowed to select his or her replacement.”

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic, Nii Arde Tagoe, who is the Head of the Nii Arde Nkpa family of Plenor, Kokrobite, Langma and Tuba, said by-elections were normally characterised with violence because the ruling political party would fight to win the seat to make a political capital out of it that it was popular while the opposition party would also struggle to win the seat to create the impression that the government was unpopular.

Perpetration of violence

As a result, he said, the political parties marshalled their supporters from the various regions to police the ballot, which led to the perpetration of violence.

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He mentioned the Atewa, Chereponi, Talensi and Amenfi West by-elections and the recent by-election held in Ayawaso West Wuogon as examples.

"All these areas were bloody and people were brutalised.

It means that as a country any by-election cannot be done in a serene atmosphere because of the tension.

The ruling party wants to win the seat and the opposition party wants to take the seat.

These two angles make things dicey. It creates panic and fear because all eyes are there", he said.

Nii Arde said if political parties were allowed to conduct their own internal elections to elect replacements for MPs who died or resigned, the phenomenon of vigilante groups visiting mayhem during by-elections would be curtailed.

Besides, he said resources used in the conduct of by-elections would be saved for other purposes while productivity in terms of people spending their time to vote would not be lost.

Following the violence recorded at the recent Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, the President has constituted a Commission of Enquiry which is looking into the issue.

Disband vigilante groups

Nii Arde called for the disbandment of all political vigilante groups by all political parties since they did not do any good to the country's democratic process.

He particularly urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to lead the clean-up exercise by leading the crusade to disband political vigilante groups.

"The onus is on the President not to allow the vigilante groups to stand. The urgency the President attached to the 'galamsey' (illegal mining) fight should be extended to the vigilante groups", he said.

Nii Arde also urged leaders of various political parties to discourage the activities of vigilante groups to avoid violence in elections.