Failure to arrest culprits incentive for more violence
The head of Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution of the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Centre, Dr. Kwesi Aning, has said that the inability and failure of the security agencies to arrest culprits in violent clashes, particularly in Bawku, has served as a great incentive for others to indulge in similar impunity.
Consequently, he called for determined action to deal resolutely with conflicts in the country, especially the Bawku crisis, to prevent the situation from engulfing the entire nation. Dr Aning, who was speaking at a round table discussion on “Prevention of election violence through legal enforcement and political tolerance”, noted that the continuous and increasing use of sophisticated weapons must be a worry to all.
The roundtable conference was organized by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD- Ghana), Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and the UNDP in Accra yesterday.
Dr. Aning rhetorically asked whether the country would know peace should any by- election take place at Bawku, judging from experience that took place at Chereponi and Akwatia.
He said Ghanaians should not be flattered and stand aloof because of the periodic tapping of the back by its international partners that Ghana is a peaceful country thus, has been able to organize free and fair elections. According to Dr. Aning, research had shown that violent clashes involving sophisticated weapons by organized groups in the country were on the increase. He also urged the international community to be frank and tell Ghanaians that what was happening would not augur well for their future.
He also blamed the two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and their leadership for the escalating political tension and violence in the country, especially the use of violent language on political platforms. Dr Aning said political ‘parties unleashed violence against their opponents to intimidate them’, and cautioned that such intolerance was gradually creeping into internal party activities.
He described the year 2012 as a boiling point that could spell doom for the country because the stakes would be high, particularly with the oil flowing and the need to win political power at all cost.
He said with the proliferation of military style arms in the wrong hands, those bad elements who were in possession of arms would be targeting individual candidates.
Dr Aning took a swipe at sections of the media who had thrown their professional journalistic practices to the wind and reported critical national issues with political party coloration, making it difficult for their audience to have access to accurate information.
He said other media houses had also resorted to making profit, irrespective of the accuracy and objectivity of the story, while others had resorted to the use of foul and offensive language that tended to inflame passions and encourage unscrupulous people to cause mayhem.
For her part , Prof. Miranda Greenstreet, a co-chairperson of CODEO, said some people used violent means to ensure that their political party or candidate won the election by all means because they knew that when their political parties lost an election they would loose their livelihood.
The Deputy Minister of Interior, Dr. Akwasi Apea-Kubi, said it required timely deployment of well equipped security officers, and concerted efforts of the Government, election officials, non political groups, political parties and civil society groups to prevent election violence.
This, he said, must start with the education of political party supporters, local government officials and the motivation of security agencies to undertake their assignments professionally and interference.