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General News of Saturday, 7 December 2019

Source: 3 News

To avoid repeat of Ayawaso violence, review whitepaper – Col. Aboagye cautions

A former military trainer and safety consultant has recommended a review of government’s whitepaper on the Emile Short Commission’s report on the Ayawaso West electoral violence to avoid a repetition of the incident.

Though he was not specific on portions needing a review, Colonel Festus Aboagye (retd) indicated that he does not agree with some conclusions made by the state in the whitepaper.

During the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency by-election which took place on January 31, 2019, some masked armed men purported to be officials of the National Security were captured on camera assaulting citizens including the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Sam George.

A three-member committee was set up to investigate the violence and made it findings and recommendations to the president.

Months later, a whitepaper was issued rejecting more than half of the findings and recommendations of the commission. The government for instance rejected the finding that members of the SWAT team committed criminal assault against certain members of the crowd gathered in front of the residence of the parliamentary candidate of the NDC.

Contributing to discussions on TV3’s news analysis show, The Key Points, Saturday, Col. Aboagye warned if the nation doesn’t want another political violence, which he termed AWW2.0, it has to go back to the whitepaper.

“In my candid opinion, the white paper has to be reviewed.

“It means the government or the authority that put out the whitepaper needs to review some conclusions that it drew.”

The commission had recommended prosecution of some state actors in the violence including Mohammed Sulemana for slapping a Member of Parliament, Mr Samuel Nartey George. But the government did not accept those recommendations.

After the incident at Ayawaso, the former military trainer asked, “who has been held accountable? Nobody has been held accountable.”

He, therefore, made reference to the responsibility to protect (R2P), a global political commitment Ghana endorsed in 2005, which he said cautioned that “every state that has past atrocities that have not been addressed, it’s likely to decline or descend into conflict or instability”.

He feared if the Ayawaso West violence is not addressed, “stakes are going to be high” in the 2020 general elections.

Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019

Col. Aboagye demanded that the list of vigilante groups in the country should be made public as required by Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 without the names of the institutions they are affiliated to.

He also called for process to dismantle these vigilante groups, their command and control, communications, recovering of weapons and equipment as well as freezing their assets.

The safety consultant also identified lack of synergy between what the Act seeks to do and what the National Peace Council-led process seeks to do. This, he explained, was as a result of government not adhering to calls for the bill to wait to have inputs from the Emile Short Commission.

He also noted that the lack of confidence the electorate have in the police service and Electoral Commission was due to “pervasive influence” of political actors in these institutions.

Political parties, the retired army officer insisted, must grant the police and all institutions “all the independence without fear or favour”.

Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu concurred with Col. Aboagye and reiterated his call for the prosecution of Mr. Sulemana and Bright Akomea (Double) for their role in the Ayawaso West by-election violence.

He recalled the Commission describing their conduct as “reprehensible”, which he said bothers on “criminality”.

Meanwhile, a findings from a survey conducted by the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) revealed that vigilante activities are growing in the country despite the introduction of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act.

It also found that women were beginning to play key roles in such vigilante activities.

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