The National Peace Council (NPC) has urged stakeholders to work towards preventing political vigilantism from undermining the peace of the 2020 general election.
Mrs. Janet Sarney-Kuma, the Rector responsible for Capacity Development and Outreach, NPC, said political vigilantism continues to be a threat to the peace and security of the country and efforts must be made to curb the menace.
Mrs Sarney-Kuma was speaking at a Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) meeting organised by the Northern Sector Action on Awareness Centre, in partnership with the NPC.
Funded by the STAR-Ghana Foundation, the meeting was to provide a platform for the CSOs to contribute to the implementation of the strategic “Roadmap to Eradicating Political Vigilantism in Ghana.”
The Roadmap presented a comprehensive outline of the goals, overall objectives, and deliverables of all relevant stakeholders, especially the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP), in the elimination of political vigilantism, and further reflected the strategic thinking of stakeholders concerning how to achieve the set goals.
It also acknowledged the multi-dimensional nature of the problem and consequently made specific recommendations not only to political parties but also to various national institutions on what could, or should be done to curb the menace.
Mrs Sarney-Kuma said the NPC had also been working hard to facilitate a number of stakeholder dialogues aimed at developing a definitive framework for eliminating political vigilantism, and that securing the commitment of the NPP and NDC towards their total disbandment was a major achievement for the NPC.
The NPC had intensified advocacy on the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999), especially among the youth to increase awareness on the law, while initiating several other dialogues with key stakeholders to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts.
Mrs. Sarney-Kuma commended the participants, comprising representatives of the Muslim Family Counselling Services, CALID, and the West African Network for Peace Building, for their sustained commitment towards public education on the various laws and advocacy to curb vigilantism.
She said the perceived bias of the Electoral Commission among parties in opposition, mutual mistrust between the major political parties, political patronage, the culture of rent-seeking, Ghana’s youth bulge and unemployment, and the ‘winner-takes-all’ politics were among the factors leading to such violent acts.
She urged the EC to work hard to erase the negative perception of bias to achieve public support, and build trust for the Commission, and suggested immediate strategies by the Government and stakeholders to reduce youth unemployment.
She explained that some individuals and groups, for instance, invested heavily in political parties with the aim of reaping bountiful dividends through state contracts, appointments into lucrative offices, and Board of State organisations when their parties won power.
It was quite clear from the foregoing that the drivers of vigilantism were related to a pervasive culture of impunity, which continued to gain significant momentum, as well as an unwillingness to enforce the mechanism of accountability in order to stop the raging menace.
The Roadmap, therefore, made recommendations to various institutions, especially those in the justice delivery sector, to discharge their duties with utmost diligence and professionalism, to ensure that law enforcement and criminal justice response to politically related violence were swift, proportionate and certain, to help safeguard the rule of law, she said.
Mr Mohammed Bun Bida, the Programmes Director, the Muslim Family Counselling Services, painted a grim picture of the negative impact of political vigilantism on especially the youth and called for sustained efforts in disbanding those groups.