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General News of Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

With four months to December polls ‘forces of darkness’ threaten Ghana’s peace

The mass voters registration exercise at the ‘Step for Christ’ polling centre in Kasoa in the Central Region started like any other day. But soon a government official will shoot her gun a few blocks away. Election officials and innocent registrants would run helter-skelter, fleeing to save their lives from a potential stray bullet from the sudden and ferocious sounds of the gunshots.

The bullet hit no one. The registration process would be disrupted for that day and resume the following day. The government official who shot the gun will boldly defend her actions: she shot the gun to ward off some attackers. Some people will be arrested. Life returns to normal. This is Ghana.

Around another polling station at Banda in the Bono Region, a 28-year-old man returns home to inform his family that he is done with his studies. He arrives in the community in one piece but fails to make it home to share his good news with family. He is killed and stabbed by persons suspected to be members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) in a case of mistaken identity.

Sillas Wulochamey died of stab wounds after being mistaken for a member of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). Police say they have made arrests.

These are just two of the violent activities that characterised the just-ended mass voters registration exercise and what security experts say point to a dangerous and troubled poll in 2020.

Forces of Darkness

Elections in Ghana are always a tense affair. But security experts and election watchers since last year have intensified their warning of possible chaos ahead of this year's polls

They believe the violence that characterised the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-elections in January of 2019 could be the height of indications that the election-related violence has reached worrying levels.



The Ayawaso West Wuogon incident is indicative of the steady but perilous progression of Ghana’s election-related violence because it was the first time persons wearing National security uniforms opened fire on party activists and wounded 18 people.

The incident happened on the day of the by-election and the party activists were sprayed with bullets at the residence of the main opposition NDC's candidate.

The apparent steady in intensity and sophistication of Ghana’s election-related violence and the important people behind these incidents are what Prof Kwasi Aning, the Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs & Research at Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, is calling the “Forces of Darkness.”

Prof Aning, a foremost security analyst in Ghana, in an interview with GhanaWeb, said the discussion about political violence in Ghana has become a fight “between the Forces of Darkness and the Forces of Light. The Forces of Darkness are those who perpetrate violence, profit from violence and cannot be dissuaded to stop using violence.”

Violence stock exchange

Because of the inability of the police and their allied law enforcement agencies to fight dangerous acts of impunity dispassionately and boldly when it involves top political activists or group, violence has become a valuable currency.

It is the currency which violence has assumed, according to Prof Aning, that is also the harbinger of chaos ahead of the December polls.

“There is a direct correlation between those who are violent, who threaten to use violence who use abusive language and the political gains that arise thereof when their parties win power…so that is the currency. It is negotiable, it loses its value after some time – that is if you don’t use it.

“The more you scream and shout and threaten people, the more your value goes up. So there is a violence stock market in this country; where violence and the tools of violence are consistently negotiated and realigned,” Prof Aning, who is also the Clinical Professor of Peacekeeping Practice at Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, explained further.

The way forward

The way forward will be for the law enforcement agencies to adhere to the recommendations of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), which has called on the police to investigate and prosecute persons who perpetrated violence during the just-ended voters registration exercise.

CODEO has said in its report that the swift prosecution will serve as a deterrent and bolster the confidence of electorates as Ghana approaches the election that is tipped to be a fierce contest between the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and former President John Mahama.

But swift prosecution may be selective and may not even happen, and Prof Aning explains why to GhanaWeb: "the Ghana Police Service will never act in a situation where they think it is the interest of the powers that be that are stake.”

At a roundtable discussion organised by Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), CODEO and the National Peace Council, on the theme, “Let’s crack the whip”, police assured the public that security for this year’s election will be 'robust and decisive'.

“Security for the 2020 election will be robust. It will be decisive, ruthless,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Dr Sayibu Pabi Gariba, said on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, and urged the public to abide by rules and regulations governing the polls.

Like many things Ghanaian, the December 2020 polls may end peacefully and incident-free by the Grace of God.





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