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General News of Monday, 4 March 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com

Vigilantism dialogue: NDC will meet NPP in good faith – Mahama

Former President John Dramani Mahama has said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is willing to attend a bi-partisan meeting which will ostensibly seek to end political vigilantism in the country.

Speaking at a Thanksgiving Service to celebrate his re-election as flagbearer of the NDC at the Perez Chapel in Accra, the former President said the NDC will ensure that objectives of the discussions at the meeting which will be held with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are “upheld.”

“We have written a letter to the President and we say that the National Peace Council is the best organization to preside over the talks on disbanding vigilantism. NDC is going into that conference in good faith,” said the former President

President Akufo-Addo, while delivering the 2019 State of the Nation Address instructed the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which he belongs to, to extend an invitation to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to discuss how to disband their respective vigilante groups.

Citing the recent violence that marred the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency due to activities of supposed politically-aligned vigilante groups, President Akufo-Addo promised to use legislation to stop the phenomenon of political vigilantism if the two parties fail to stop it voluntarily.

“I want to use the platform of this Message to make a sincere, passionate appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties in our country, NPP and NDC, to come together, as soon as possible, preferably next week, to agree on appropriate measures to bring an end to this worrying and unacceptable phenomenon of vigilantism in our body politic,” he said.

“I have asked the leadership of the NPP to extend an invitation to the leadership of the NDC for such a meeting. The security services of the country will be on standby to assist this meeting… If voluntary disbandment by the parties is not feasible, then I will initiate legislation on the matter. Vigorous debate and the exchange of ideas should be the true basis of political dialogue and competition in our country, not the activities of party vigilante groups,” Akufo-Addo added.



Mahama taking a u-turn?

The former President’s comment at Perez today [Sunday] seems to contradict his earlier comments on the proposed meeting.

Mr. Mahama had earlier said President Nana Akufo-Addo’s call on the two leading political parties to come together and find a way to disband vigilante groups aligned to them won’t work because it is too simplistic.

He had suggested that disbanding political vigilantes in the country goes beyond political parties.

“I am happy he [President Akufo-Addo] is taking the initiative to try and resolve the matter but I think just asking the parties to meet and resolve it is not enough. There are several other stakeholders that must be brought on board. We have the Peace Council, security experts who all have to invited to the table to look at the phenomenon and what to do and how to deal with it. How are we going to delist the vigilantes who are embedded in the security service already? These are all questions that will bubble up and NDC and NPP on their own cannot resolve those issues,” he said.

“The structure he is suggesting won’t work. Just to tell NPP that invite your brothers NDC to come and sit and see how you can ban vigilantes is too simplistic. There should be a better structuring of this issue and there should be good faith….It will take other stakeholders like the Peace Council to disband this. NPP and NDC alone can’t dissolve it,” John Mahama added.