President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,on Thursday, expressed his determination to end political vigilantism in the country by assuring that, if voluntary disbandment of vigilantes was not feasible, he would initiate legislation on the matter.
He, therefore, asked the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) to come together and agree on appropriate measures to end the phenomenon.
President Akufo-Addo said this when he delivered the State-of-the-Nation address (SONA) to Parliament in Accra, in fulfillment of Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution, which stipulates that “The President shall, at the beginning of each session of parliament and before the dissolution of parliament, deliver to Parliament a message on the state of the nation”.
The SONA is the third State-of-the-Nation address of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government since assuming the helm of affairs of the nation in 2017.
It was attended by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and wife Samira, First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, Former President Jerry John Rawlings and wife Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, former President John Dramani Mahama, the Diplomatic Community, justices of the superior courts, service commanders, members of the Council State and traditional rulers.
He said he had personally asked the leadership of the NPP to extend an invitation to the leadership of NDC for such a meeting to happen and, thus, suggested next week as a preferable date.
“The time has come to put an end to the phenomenon of politically-related violence. The only way in our system to begin to deal with such a situation is through the work of a Commission of Inquiry,” he stated.
The President’s comment comes in the wake of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, which occurred on January 31, this year, to elect a replacement for the late Member of Parliament for the area Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko.
The incident happened at La-Bawaleshie at the private residence of the NDC parliamentary candidate, Mr Delali Kwasi Brempong, which resulted in varied degrees of injury to 18 persons, seven persons hospitalised and one sustaining bullet wounds on the leg.
President Akufo-Addo said: “What was tolerated over the years cannot and must not be accepted anymore.
“We must not take our peace and security for granted -not for a moment. Our children and grandchildren will not forgive us if we were to compromise our peace and stability.
“I will not permit that to happen under my watch. Our forbearers paid too high a price, with their blood and toll, to bequeath to us this beautiful nation, the lives of our citizens are too precious to waste”.
He underscored the need for all well-meaning Ghanaians to work together in resolving the matter once and for all.
President Akufo-Addo cited the previous by-elections in Akwatia, Atiwa, Chereponi,Talensi and Amenfi West, which were marked with violence, with some people still having their physical and emotional scars to show for it.
He said he could have kept mute over it, but believed it wouldn’t be in the interest of the country’s democracy.
Government has established a four-member Commission of Inquiry to probe the matter and he believed the findings and recommendations from the Emile Short Commission would enable the country to chart a path towards ending politically-related violence in the country,
He also cited the shooting incident at the National Democratic Congress (NDC) executive meeting in Kumasi last Monday, which was broken up by the act of violence leading to the tragic death of a citizen, saying that, the incident reinforced the urgent need to find a lasting solution to that phenomenon.
He said vigorous debates and the exchange of ideas should be the true basis of political dialogue and competition in the country and not the activities of party vigilante groups.