The call by civil society organisations and other interest groups for the disbandment of party militias can be achieved with the assistance of international organisations like the AU and the UN, a security analyst has said.
Dr Kwesi Aning said to properly rid the country of violent vigilante groups requires what he called an “honest broker” to mediate the process to disband the militias.
“We should not be shy as a nation to say probably the UN should come and help to play the honest broker or the African Union because in disaggregating those who are members of these groups, the economic interests, their geographical location, what they used their strengths and equipment for when they are not being used, need a trust-building process; that takes quite some time,” he said.
The renowned security analyst at the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Center (KAIPTC) made the suggestion at the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry on Monday.
“Let’s begin the process of building trust between and among those who established these groups…How do we negotiate around the difficulties in which we have placed ourselves? Are there national institutions that can play the honest broker, and I think the level of suspicion is so deep,” he said.
Dr Aning, who is Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs & Research at KAIPTC described the violence unleashed by these party-affiliated militias as “the most stable currency” in Ghana.
The security expert told the Short Commission on Monday party foot soldiers have learnt how to maximise their usefulness beyond being exploited and dumped by politicians.
“Foot soldiers perform particular types of services, intimidated people, disrupted rallies, and tore down campaign posters. But overtime started to organise, got more power”.
In recent years, they have obtained “a better understanding of how to use the tools of violence”.
Some of these violent groups now use the tools to demand access to political power.
Photo: Pro-NPP militia group Delta Force based in the Ashanti Region
Government appointees have been attacked and sacked from their offices by pro-NPP militia groups. In other instances, public offices have been closed down while police watch on.
Dr. Aning suggested, soldiers ought to be unleashed to deal with the militias because by law “when you use violence to attack the representatives of the state, it is not the police that fight you, it is the armed forces”.
Explaining why the police have been unable to stamp out the menace, he complained that since the 1960s, the Ghana Police Service’s lawful function of protecting lives and properties has been undermined.
“Every Commission of inquiry that has been established concerning the Ghana Police Service, its functionality and its challenges….have consistently spoken about the need to strengthen the capacity and even more importantly the independence.”
He said the lack of resources and independent police service, has left the institution “incapable, unwilling and frightened”.
In a shocking incident of militia action, members of Delta Force freed their compatriots standing trial in a court in the Ashanti region.
Some 13 convicted members of Delta Force were fined GH¢1, 800 each in 2017 for conspiracy to commit crime, crime to wit, conspiracy and rioting.
In another, 8 Delta Force suspects were freed after the state said it did not have enough evidence to continue prosecution.