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Opinions of Monday, 30 November 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide

Limitations of diplomacy

Avoiding brusqueness is one of the attributes of diplomacy. Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas being a member of the fraternity of diplomats could not therefore have handled the subject of vigilantism in the country any better than he did when he graced the book launch of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his colleague editor in the twilight of last week.

We would be very surprised if Dr Chambas does not know in his heart the source of vigilantism in the country, given the briefing he received about the Talensi by-election and matters arising thereof.

The subject is dear to his heart perhaps because of his experience at witnessing firsthand the fallout from countries where the subject has gained somewhat a foothold with stubborn tap roots.

As a former appointee of the NDC, he appreciates better the workings of the party, its engagement of thugs for political work and the development of vigilante groups from these over the years. The party has not weaned itself from this antecedent as evidenced from the President’s black-belt reference recently.

The first time Chambas dealt with vigilantism was in the early aftermath of the Talensi by-election when the Azorka boys, with the backing of the state, straddled the constituency like a colossus with a worrying disrespect to security agents assigned law enforcement duties at the theatre.

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), which could not have folded its arms as their opponents were openly out to bully them, unleashed its boys to confront their counterparts; but without the state backing as did their opponents, they were obviously on the back-foot.

The interior minister in a subtle support for vigilantism passed that infamous remark of violence begets violence, which made disturbing headlines even as he sought to wriggle himself out of the negative repercussions of the verbal recklessness.

Really vigilantism is such a serious subject, its negative effects on the development of democracy so widespread that diplomatic language feeble as it is cannot tackle it.

Good talk there, Chambas, about reposing confidence in the security agents. Unfortunately, Chambas is looking at the ideal picture of a professional military and police service independent of the trappings of bad politicians eager to hold on to power even when their people are fed up with their bad governance modules and attitude. There is no gainsaying the professionalism of the two organisations whose personnel have earned international recognition for keeping the peace in conflict zones since the Congo crisis in 1960, particularly in Kasavubu, to date in Mali and others.

Unfortunately, however, we regret to point to Chambas that the professionalism he knows about is being compromised gradually by the interference of politicians at the helm.

Police officers cannot afford to attract the wrath of politicians at the helm by being too professional. Those who have are paying the price for their professionalism even now. It is common therefore for the police to let off the hook suspects who adequate evidence is present to have them arraigned before court.

The challenges militating against the adequate enforcement of the law are varied. Police officers who are too professional stand the risk of losing their promotion or even transferred to schedules incommensurate with their ranks.

These are some of the whips politicians whose parties are in power can crack on professional officers. See why they dare not confront these thugs with state backing?

Our cops and soldiers can do their best only when politicians leave them alone to do their work. Outside Ghana they do so well that their professionalism stands them apart of others.