Civil society and religious organisations continue to condemn the violence that characterised the January 31, 2019, Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election held in Accra.
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) in a statement copied the Ghanaian Times condemned “in no uncertain terms” the reported shootings and assaults perpetrated by some unidentified groups resulting in injuries.”
Of particular concern, it said was reported use of vigilante groups to disturb the peace and quiet of the by-election, the statement issued in Accra last Friday, signed by the General Secretary of the GCBC, Very Rev Father Lazarus Anondee added.
“These incidents do not only pose a serious threat to our democracy but also, would certainly draw back the progress and success of our democratic gains.
“In addition, such manifestations of the lawlessness and insecurity do not augur well for us as a nation as we prepare for the 2020 general elections,” the statement noted.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference, therefore, called on the Ghana Police Service and all other security agencies to conduct thorough investigations into the incidents and bring the perpetrators to book.
It called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to liaise with the political parties to address all the challenges and fears of stakeholders in the conduct of peaceful elections.
The Greater Accra Regional Peace Council (GARPC) in a press statement said it joined well-meaning Ghanaians to condemn the violence perpetuated during the by-election on January 31, 2019 saying “The GARPC is saddened and pained by this unacceptable action.”
The statement signed by Regional Chairman, Rt Rev Samuel Kofi Osabutey, said the violence did not only threaten the peace of the region and the country as a whole, but also had potential of eroding the gains that “our collective efforts have made since Ghana‘s Fourth Republic began in 1992.”
“Why should elections be lowered to destroy this beautiful land and well respected nation in the comity of nations, this nation should not forget the effect of electoral violence in other countries in the sub-region?” the statement queried.
The culture of impunity related to electoral violence persists because the culprits were not made to face the full rigours of the law and the sanctioning regime, the statement added.
The GARPC, therefore, called on the security agencies to be more proactive during such elections, secondly we plead with all the law enforcement agencies to deal expeditiously with such election related occurrences.
Pressure group, OccupyGhana, for its part also expressed disappointment that a by-election “right in the capital of Ghana could degenerate into such violence”, some of which were captured in pictures and videos that went viral in the traditional and social media.
In a statement issued in Accra on Friday, the group condemned all such acts and called for the perpetrators to be brought to book and punished in accordance with the law.
It noted that the Police had stated in a press release dated January 31, 2019, that it would investigate the incidents of violence, adding that while agreeing that the Police may investigate the matters with a view to causing the prosecution of offenders, “we would propose that an independent body conducts a full-scale inquiry into the matter.”
OccupyGhana said “some of the videos we have seen showed that some of the masked men who are accused of the intimidation and violence, and certainly one of the persons, who assaulted a Member of Parliament, were in vehicles that bore the name or insignia of the Police.”
“The Police that stands accused, at the very least, of complicity in these matters, cannot investigate the overall issue of the violence that occurred,” it noted.
“This is why we are calling upon the government to immediately constitute a proper commission of inquiry under Chapter 23 of the Constitution to inquire into these matters, stressing that no person or group of persons should be allowed to destroy our reputation, disrupt our peace and denigrate the pillars of civility we have worked so hard to achieve,” the statement said.
The Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) and the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), in a joint statement in Accra last Friday, said it was dismayed and disappointed with the acts of violence, intimidation and fear that occurred at the La-Bawaleshie Presbyterian Basic School Polling Station on January 31, 2019, where the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election was being held.
“As a civil society network that has consistently campaigned against electoral violence, impunity and injustice, in this country, CFI and IDEG vehemently condemned the blatant use of brute force with gross impunity in the presence of police officers and security agencies that failed to effect or prevent innocent people from being assaulted.
“The perpetrators must be arrested, prosecuted and brought to justice expeditiously,” the statement signed jointly by Major General Carl Coleman (rtd), Chairman of CFI and Mr Kwesi Jonah, Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Institutional Relations of IDEG, said.
This according to them would serve as a deterrent to those who are planning to indulge in violence especially as the 2020 elections approach.
“Henceforth, CFI and IDEG called on the Police to declare zero tolerance towards vigilantism, electoral violence and impunity,” the statement said.
The statement recalled the former President, Mr John Dramani Mahama and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s definitive stand against electoral violence, impunity, and injustice in both Kumasi 2012 and in Accra 2016 Declarations during the electioneering campaigns.
Consequently,they are calling on the President and his predecessors including Mr Mahama to take immediate action to end the recurring acts of electoral violence and impunity which were escalating and threatening to destroy Ghana’s democratic stability, peace and unity.
By Times Reporter