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Opinions of Thursday, 7 February 2019

Columnist: Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Akufo-Addo's historic duty to fix political victimisation and violence

The violence that accompanied the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election has been analyzed and condemned rightly by many. To put matters in context, victimization and violence in our politics is older than our Republic. It began in the CPP-Matemeho clashes in the 1950s before our independence. It has had many editions and the date of the current version to the roots of the PNDC/NDC as correctly pointed out by ex-president Mahama. Kumbungu, Atiwa, Talensi and other names have become bywards for political violence, fueled, mostly by vigilantes with the active connivance of the Police.

The Police have been involved in each one of these instances, either as active partners of whichever party happens to be in power or as silent accomplices who looked away. The NPP apologists have a very valid point that the NDC have visited such violence on the NPP at places like Talensi. Indeed, if President Mahama had brought the criminals of Talensi to book, we may not be talking of Ayawaso West Wuogon today. We are reaping the fruits of unpunished acts of election violence occurring in cycles from both parties. It is indeed, nauseating to listen to all the NDC members, beginning with their founder lecturing us about political violence.

Former President Rawlings and Totobi Quakyi take the cake. Mr. Rawlings must have some convenient amnesia when he refers to actions "especially after 2008". Mr. President, most of your career was dedicated to the creation and nurturing of the "culture of violence ". Indeed, the pontifications of NDC functionaries on the violence reminds one of the ex-prostitutes advocating chastity to young women in their community. As an NPP member pointedly asked me, "For how long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and weep".

However, an eye-for-an-eye will leave everyone blind. The Police, as Nathan Kofi Boakye opined, is helpless because of "order from above". They seem to owe allegiance, not to the constitution and its mandates but to the government of the day and whichever party is in power. Kofi Boakye was right that "If political thuggery is not stopped now, from 2020, there will be an explosion ". The Police failed us at Ayawaso West Wuogon. Despite the statement signed by Effia Tenge pledging their readiness for the by-election, they were unprepared.

They did not know the men who had gone to Ayawaso West Wuogon in marked police vehicles! Surprisingly, on NPP forums, these vigilantes and their leaders, unknown to the police are being serenaded for a job well done!. Sadly, instead of summoning the leadership of the Police to account for what happened or did not happen, Parliamentarians are marching to the Police with placards, like Civil Service Organizations. They should summon the leadership of the police and ask them questions. That is what executive oversight requires.

Before turning to the President, let me direct a word to my NPP colleagues. We should remember that as long as there is a democracy, someday, whether in 2, 6 or 10 years, the NPP will lose power. When that happens, those being slapped today can do the slapping or send the slappers with the enthusiastic support of the very police supporting the slapping and shooting now. Let us set a good example because we are better than them. Finally, I believe this President is uniquely qualified to end the cycle of victimization and violence.



First, he is a human right lawyer who has spent most of his life fighting for justice and what he calls, "democratic accountability ". Second, 52 years ago, yesterday, J.B. Danquah, his uncle and the founder of our political tradition died painfully in preventive detention at Nsawam -- a victim of the PDA he had fought. Mr. President, you have a duty to end political victimization and violence, not because of the hypocrites in the NDC, not because you started it, but because of your life's work, your uncle and the judgment of history.

Good men, like you, in good times, should not set bad examples for bad men in bad times. Ghanaians expect and deserve better from you. Listen to the democratic yearnings of Ghanaians and make Ghana safe for our democracy. May God bless our Democracy. May God bless Ghana.