“No competent criminal justice system in the world allows parties to a crime, to meet and settle the matter by themselves,” a PPP statement claims.
The statement issued on Sunday was alluding to the call by the President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo during his third State of the Nation Address in which he urged the NDC and their counterpart in the NPP to meet and voluntarily disband militia’s loyal to them.
Party militialism has been in the news for the wrong reasons especially in the wake of the January 31 Ayawaso by-elections that turned violent.
The statement signed by National Chairman of the Progressive People’s Party, Nii Allotey Brew-Hammond, made proposals to the process of appointing the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioners of the Electoral Commission.
Find the full statement published as follows.
PRESS STATEMENT ON ORGANISED POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND THREATS TO GHANA’S DEMOCRACY
In the recent exchange of open letters between the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Mr. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, on a proposed meeting between their two parties to settle the crimes of organised political violence, the PPP has noticed with disappointment, the boastful posture of the NDC and NPP over our fragile democracy.
In the exchanges, the President insists that:
“ … the two parties who have dominated and continue to dominate the politics of the Fourth Republic, who between them have garnered at least 95% of the votes in each of the seven general elections of the Fourth Republic, who have provided all seven Governments of the Fourth Republic, who are the only parties currently represented in the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic, …”, should meet to settle the crimes of political violence by themselves.
And the NDC Chairman Mr. Ofosu Ampofo concurs that “… NDC and NPP have indeed been the most successful parties of the 4th Republic…”
The question every reasonable Ghanaian is asking is, to what end? when the dominance of the two parties for the entire 26 years of the 4th Republic has not translated into the economic well-being of Ghanaian citizens. What is there to boast about?
The building and maintenance of political party militias for the purposes of winning elections or maintaining power?
Chronic underperformance of the economy under successive governments produced by the two parties?
The poor infrastructure and socio-economic development? or
The “create loot and share” of the nation’s resources among the political elite?
We wish to place it on record that, as far as the PPP and the silent majority of Ghanaians are concerned, the 26 years of dominance of the NDC and NPP in our politics, have turned out to be wasted years and wasted votes cast to give them the mandate to govern Ghana. We believe sincerely with all our hearts that the patient and long-suffering Ghanaians would awake and rise up again and show the duopoly “WE NO GO SIT DOWN MAKE YOU CHEAT US EVERYDAY”.
We have always known that Ghana’s multi-party electoral democracy, as arranged by the 1992 constitution, promotes winner-takes-all, making the stakes very high in every election, and “a must win” for contesting parties and individuals.
In the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election held on January 31, 2019, the NDC and NPP wanted to win the election by any means possible - fair or foul. The desire to win by all means took hold and the by-election turned violent on voting day, leaving at least 16 people injured. We are all aware of the testimonies given by witnesses that appeared before the Commission of Inquiry.
Incumbency abuse by successive governments has led to electoral offences such as undue influence and vote buying. Unfortunately, the integrity of our electoral process has deteriorated over the years, to the point where open vote buying no longer strikes us as an offence, even though it is listed among the electoral offences on our statute books.
Under section 20(1) of the Representation of the People Law, 1992 (PNDCL 284), the election of a candidate shall be declared void on an election petition if a high court is satisfied:
(a) “That general bribery, general treating, general intimidation or other misconduct or circumstances, whether similar to those specified in the law or not, have so extensively prevailed that they may reasonably be supposed to have affected the result of the election”.
Violence and Intimidation:
For those who genuinely wish that we find a lasting solution to election-related violence in Ghana, which we are quick to blame on vigilante groups within political parties, our advocacy must now be aimed at having leaders of sponsoring political parties held vicariously liable for any violence their hirelings unleash on fellow citizens.
We are absolutely convinced that, it is the desire to win elections by hook or crook that leads to the forming and or hiring of the services of vigilante groups to perpetuate the election-related violence, we continue to see in Ghana.
We must not allow political leaders who win elections through violence, to get away unpunished. We should have the outcomes of such elections annulled and the beneficiaries disqualified from contesting future elections to serve as a deterrent.
Appointment of IGP:
Arguments have been advanced within and without police circles that the appointment of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) by the President, would always lead to control of the police by the incumbent and mistrust of the entire service by non-government stakeholders in every election.
To that end, we wish to reiterate the PPP’s recommendation that, the President, instead of appointing, should nominate the IGP for two-thirds majority approval by Parliament. That way, he or she becomes everyone’s IGP. And not the President’s IGP.
It is also recommended that the police and allied services personnel from Immigration, Prisons and Fire Service remain the only category of security personnel to be involved in the management of election security in Ghana. Ultimate responsibility should, however, rest with the EC working in collaboration with the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), and the Police professionally in the lead.
Appointment of EC Chair and Commissioners:
The PPP insists that the excessive and discretionary powers of the executive to appoint virtually all public officers in Ghana be toned down. The PPP thinks it is a waste of state resources to have two full -time Ministers of State and a National Security Coordinator to head the national security apparatus.
As regards the appointment of the EC Chair and Commissioners, we should learn from Kenya. After going through a protracted election dispute in 2008, Kenya came out with a new formula for appointing its Electoral Board members. In their case:
Advertisements are placed in the media inviting applications for the position.
Applicants are taken through an interviewing process with a panel made up of political party representatives like Ghana’s IPAC, CSOs, Judiciary and the legislature etc.
The interviewing process is televised live to make it open and transparent.
In the final analysis, 11 names (Two for chairperson and nine for members) are submitted to the President for nominations.
The President then (nominates one chairperson of the two and six members of the nine) for vetting and approval by parliament before appointments are made.
While we consider the Kenyan process of appointment for the future, the EC, as the election management body, should work to come off the perception held or being created by some stakeholders that it is working in the interest of the party in power.
When politics divide us as a nation, it is civil society, religious institutions and constitutionally mandated civic education institutions like the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) that should serve as the conscience of our society.
In the Ayawaso West by-election, the NCCE stood by and watched the contesting parties resort to their own devices of reaching out to the electorate by way of education. In the process, many election offences took place. We find it rather strange that the NCCE could not organise one debate or town hall meeting towards the by-election.
We urge the Police to take the criminal investigations into organised political violence seriously to bring all culprits to book through the criminal justice system. No competent criminal justice system in the world allows parties to a crime, to meet and settle the matter by themselves. The PPP and the silent majority are watching.
Nii Allotey Brew-Hammond
Cc: All Media Houses.