The National Peace Council (NPC) said violence perpetrated by party-affiliated vigilante groups has become a major threat to Ghana’s democracy and national peace.
The Council has, therefore, called for the support of stakeholders to eliminate the canker to ensure a peaceful and violent-free general election.
Mr Nicholas Tawiah, an Eminent Member of the Western Regional Governing Board of the NPC, made the call at an “Advocacy Campaign Workshop on the Eradication of Political Vigilantism in Ghana,” held at Daboase in the Wassa-East District of the Western Region.
The programme, organised by the Western Regional Peace Council, with support from the Danish Embassy, brought together representatives of the two major political parties; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC), as well as religious groups, the District Assembly, Police, Civil Society Organisations, National Commission for Civic Education, the Electoral Commission, and the media.
It was to sensitise stakeholders on the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act of 2019 (Act 999), the Roadmap to Eradicating Political Vigilantism in Ghana, and the Code of Conduct for Political Parties.
Mr Tawiah said politically motivated violence had become a worrying trend, which should be addressed through concerted efforts by all and sundry, especially the two main political parties.
He said multiparty democracy and elections should not create the grounds for war but should be an arena for political parties to exhibit what they could do to enhance the development of the country.
He called on the NDC and NPP to work together to ensure peace before, during and after the December polls.
Mr Tawiah cited the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, which awakened the nation to the reality of vigilantism and its dangers, and the setting up of the Emile Short Commission that gave birth to the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019, (Act 999), to give a legal backing to the fight against the menace.
He urged the participants and all stakeholders to support the Regional and National Peace councils to ensure a peaceful and violent-free general election.
He was hopeful that the workshop would enhance the ability and commitment of stakeholders towards working to ensure incident free polls.
Mr Patrick Kumi from the District Assembly urged political party functionaries to use decent language during campaigns in order not to inflame passion and advised the youth to stay away from violent acts.
He tasked the political parties to educate their supporters on the Vigilantism Act and entreated them to comport themselves before, during and after the election to preserve the peace of the District, which had been classified as a hotspot.
More than 23 hotspots were identified in the District.
Mr Damien Asobayire, the Western Regional Executive Secretary of the NPC, took participants through the Code of Conduct for Political Parties, Vigilantism Act, Early Warning signs, and Implementation/Action Plan and Formation of Monitoring Teams.
Superintendent Mr Asiwome Agbemenyale, the Daboase District Police Commander, reiterated the commitment of the Police to ensure peaceful polls.
He said the police could only work effectively if they received the needed cooperation from the people as well as the relevant information to work with.
The participants expressed their commitment to partnering the Regional Peace Council to sensitise the public, especially party supporters, on the importance of a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the election.