The president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s response to a letter written to him by the Chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress on the disbandment of party militia, has left the party in shock.
A Deputy General Secretary of the party, Peter Otokunor, said the president’s response leaves much to be desired.
“We are amazed and I think that this letter is most bizarre, to say the least, and the tone of the letter sounds unpresidential for us,” he told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Stories programme.
Samuel Ofosu Ampofo in a surprise letter to the President after he called for the two major parties – NPP and NDC – to sit and find a solution to the party militia menace in the country said, members of his party will avail themselves for the dialogue.
Although President Akufo-Addo had requested the meeting between the two main parties, Mr Ofosu Ampofo proposed an expansion, requesting for representatives of all political parties, civil society organisations, media, military, police and other security agencies as well as other relevant stakeholders.
The NDC also proposed the inclusion of a mediator and suggested that a representative from the National Peace Council be appointed for that task of moderating the discourse.
In the letter, the NDC further proposed the inclusion of institutions like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist the National Peace Council.
But President Akufo-Addo in his response expressed disappointment at the NDC’s call for a mediator for the dialogue.
The President said “…your request for mediators and facilitators of the dialogue, I am dismayed, and I believe that the Ghanaian people share my dismay, that the two parties who have who have dominated and continue to dominate the politics of the Fourth Republic, who between them have garnered at least 95% of the votes in each of the seven general elections of the Fourth Republic, who are the only parties currently represented in the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic, cannot meet to dialogue on matters of our nation’s governance and political culture, without the intervention of outsiders, including foreign entities, no matter how well-meaning.”
President Akufo-Addo denied other claims made by the NDC and added that he had hoped the proposed meeting would be without preconditions on either side.
Mr Otokunor said the President’s disregard for the call for other civil society groups and the National Peace Council to be included in the dialogue is disappointing.
“If the president, of all the claims that he made in the State of the Nation Address, is not ready and willing and does not think that these institutions have a role to play in the disbandment of these party militia, then, I beg to differ, it is a very big problem.
“The President as part of his State of the Nation Address said that while we [the parties] were going to meet, he is putting the Security Agencies on standby, it tells you that the Security Agencies also have a role to play and so for the president to suggest that all these groups do not have militia groups and for that matter cannot be part of the discussion is rather pedestrian,” he added.
Mr Otokunor said the president’s denial that no pro-NPP militia has been recruited into the National Security Council contradicts what the National Security Minister who confirmed this at the Emile Short Commission hearing the violence that characterised the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.
The statement by the President, for Mr Otokunor, was worrying, “especially considering the fact that we heard at the Commission today from one of those gentlemen who had indicated clearly the role he plays in the NPP, yet found his way into National Security.”
He added that “we have also heard from the General Secretary of the NPP admitting to benefiting immensely from the activities of these party militia groups.
“It really makes one wonder what the President was trying to say in this letter.”
But Communications Director at the Jubilee House, Euguen Arhin sees nothing wrong with the contents of the president’s letter.
Although the tone of the letter has been called out by some people, Mr Arhin said “I do not see any issue with the tone of the letter. The president was only responding to certain categorical statements that were made by Mr Ofosu Ampofo and debunk them.
“Every single thing he responded to was a direct response to the letter that was written to him by the chairperson so I don’t see anything wrong with responding directly to a statement made by somebody. He only stated the facts and I don’t think he was harsh in his tone or disproportionate in his answers to the NDC’s Chair,” he added.
He said the president’s response to the call for a mediator was not wrong.
According to him, President Akufo-Addo was only asking for the parties to meet, but if subsequently, they decide to include a mediator, that will be their decision, not his.
Mr Arhin said the president was and remains committed to the call he made for the political militia groups to be completely disbanded.
“Nothing has changed,” he said adding that the letter goes to reinforce that stance.