President Nana Akufo-Addo has rallied political leadership of the two main political parties to end the menace of party militias as citizens grow apprehensive ahead of 2020 elections.
Speaking at his third State of the Nation Address in Parliament, the President urged a meeting between the governing New Patriotic Party and the opposition National Democratic Congress.
He preferred the meeting next week where the two parties will “agree on appropriate measures to the worrying and unacceptable phenomenon.”
The President could not be wrong about the worrying activities of party militia following the first recorded death in 2019 linked to their activities.
The NDC’s militia, “The Hawks,” allegedly shot dead a party activist in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, while a party meeting was ongoing.
Political violence which marred an otherwise routine by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency in the Greater Accra region is believed to have undertones of militia’s handiwork.
These two episodes of political-sponsored violence has seen the government under intense pressure to clamp down on the nefarious works of party militias.
In response, the President revealed that his first instinct was to let the police investigate.
But with the police battling complicity in addressing the menace and wide scepticism surrounding their capacity to do so, the President explained he opted for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Ayawaso West Wuogon violence.
The Commission is in its second week of its televised hearings in Accra.
The President praised his choice of Commissioners as independent, spirited Ghanaians and hyped the inquiry as “the only way” to comprehensively tackle the canker.
“The time has come to put an end to political violence in our system,” he intoned amidst wide applause in the chamber.
But stepping up his proposals to address the violence, the President wants a bi-partisan approach. “The security services of the country will be on standby to assist this meeting”, he said.
Already the NDC has pooh-poohed on the need for a Commisison of Inquiry but appears to have softened its stance in recent days. Their reaction to the President’s latest recommendation is expected in the coming days.
But the President, perhaps aware of partisan gridlock, also vowed to go one more step beyond a bi-partisan solution if NPP and NDC leaders fail to respond to his charge.
“If voluntary disbandment by the parties is not feasible, I will initiate legislation on this matter,” he weighed up his options.
Sounding out possible legislation could raise another debate over whether current laws are not already enough to deal with the canker. Many believe implementing laws is a weakness in Ghana’s body politic.
Dabbling in rhetoric, the President called on political leaders to value the legacy of peace bequeathed to Ghanaians by their forbears.
“Our children and grandchildren will not forgive us if we are to compromise our peace and security. I will not permit it to occur under my watch” he vowed.
He said the blood and toil of Ghana’s patriarchs and freedom fighters in winning independence are too high a price to waste on political violence.
He recited the second stanza of the National Anthem to stress the need for united efforts in addressing Ghana’s critical problems.