President Nana Akufo-Addo’s call on the two leading political parties, the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party to come together and find a way to disband vigilante groups aligned to them parties won’t work because it is too simplistic.
This is the view of former president John Mahama who believes that disbanding political vigilantes in the country goes beyond political parties.
President Akufo-Addo, while delivering the 2019 State of the Nation Address instructed the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which he belongs to, to extend an invitation to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to discuss how to disband their respective vigilante groups.
Citing the recent violence that marred the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency due to activities of supposed politically-aligned vigilante groups, President Akufo-Addo promised to use legislation to stop the phenomenon of political vigilantism if the two parties fail to stop it voluntarily.
“I want to use the platform of this Message to make a sincere, passionate appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties in our country, NPP and NDC, to come together, as soon as possible, preferably next week, to agree on appropriate measures to bring an end to this worrying and unacceptable phenomenon of vigilantism in our body politic,” he said.
“I have asked the leadership of the NPP to extend an invitation to the leadership of the NDC for such a meeting. The security services of the country will be on standby to assist this meeting… If voluntary disbandment by the parties is not feasible, then I will initiate legislation on the matter. Vigorous debate and the exchange of ideas should be the true basis of political dialogue and competition in our country, not the activities of party vigilante groups,” Akufo-Addo added.
But responding to the call on Radio Gold on Friday, John Mahama said although he is happy that President Akufo-Addo is taking the initiative to have the problem addressed, he believes his approach will not work if it is not broadened to include other stakeholders.
“I am happy he is taking the initiative to try and resolve the matter but I think just asking the parties to meet and resolve it is not enough. There are several other stakeholders that must be brought on board. We have the Peace Council, security experts who all have to invited to the table to look at the phenomenon and what to do and how to deal with it. How are we going to delist the vigilantes who are embedded in the security service already? These are all questions that will bubble up and NDC and NPP on their own cannot resolve those issues,” he said.
“The structure he is suggesting won’t work. Just to tell NPP that invite your brothers NDC to come and sit and see how you can ban vigilantes is too simplistic. There should be a better structuring of this issue and there should be good faith….It will take other stakeholders like the Peace Council to disband this. NPP and NDC alone can’t dissolve it,” John Mahama added.
Meanwhile, he has described Akufo-Addo as the “father of militant vigilantism” whose actions have left the country in a state of insecurity.
He said President Akufo-Addo, while a candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2012 introduced the phenomenon of militant vigilantism by encouraging the youth in his party to be armed and aggressive to ensure that the NPP wins power at all cost.
“The phenomena of militant vigilantism is a creation of the Akufo-Addo government. [It started] Not only in his government, [it started] even when he was a [[presidential] candidate…. So really, Akufo-Addo is the father of militant vigilantism.”