The New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have unanimously agreed to disband vigilante groups but suggest different approaches to eradicating the menace.
Demonstrating the goodwill in the national effort to disband all vigilante groups from the political space, the NPP said the fight to eradicate the canker must be limited to vigilante groups associated with political parties, whilst the NDC said the approach should be expanded to all spheres of national life, including the national security, where such groups were entrenched.
These divergent views emerged after the end of a five-and-a-half hour closed-door meeting between the two parties in Accra last Tuesday.
As the meeting has been rescheduled for April 29 this year, political pundits and other concerned citizens are keen on seeing the two parties come to common grounds to tackle the menace head-on.
The dialogue to disband the vigilante groups was moderated by the National Peace Council (NPC) and brought together the national executives of the two parties to discuss the rules and modalities on how to disband vigilante groups operating within the political parties.
Key among the participants were the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Freddie Blay; the General Secretary, Mr John Boadu, and the National Organiser, Mr Sammy Awuku.
The NDC, on the other hand, was represented by party stalwarts such as the National Chairman, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo; the General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, and a former Chief of staff, Mr Prosper Bani.
The discussion also focused on how to prohibit the ownership, hiring or utilisation of such groups by the political parties or their members, as well as how the two parties could cooperate with state agencies and stakeholders in the total eradication of such violent groups in the country.
Making a case for efforts to disband vigilante groups in the country to be expanded, Mr Ofosu Ampofo called for an all-encompassing national approach to eradicating vigilantism in all spheres of national life.
He said restricting the fight to eliminate vigilante groups to political parties could undermine the efforts to disband such violent groups.
He argued that beyond vigilante groups within political parties, there were also some violent groups within the national security agencies and society in general whose activities undermined the country’s democracy.
No piecemeal approach
“The NDC believes that vigilantism goes beyond political parties since there are other groups outside political parties whose work undermines our democratic process; so we want an all-encompassing approach to dealing with political vigilantism once and for all and not a piecemeal approach which will not solve the problem for this country.
However, in a communiqué issued after the meeting, the NPP said it was of the opinion that the focus to disband vigilante groups should be political vigilantism in all its ramifications.
Mr Blay expressed appreciation of the goodwill shown by the NPP and the NDC towards eradicating political vigilantism in the country.
He, therefore, commended the National Peace Council for moderating the dialogue which he said ensured amicable and objective exchanges between the two major political parties.
“I believe this is not the end as there are a few other things we will engage ourselves in towards ending violent vigilantism in our political landscape,” he said.
He stated that appending their signatures to the communiqué showed that “we are fully committed and, therefore, we will do everything possible to ensure that there is no violence or intimidation in our politics between the two political parties.