Atmosphere Leading To Elections Is Enormously Volatile

The Director of Operations of the Ghana Police Service, Chief Superintendent (C/Supt.) Dr Benjamin K. Agordzo, has stated that the atmosphere leading to the November 7 elections is enormously volatile.

“We are nine months to the elections, and the political atmosphere is heating up already,” he said. According to him, the elections are extremely crucial, and that if care was not taken, it could be mired by violence. “The stakes are very high,” C/Supt. Agordzo revealed on Tuesday during a round table discussion in Accra organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), under the theme: ‘Preventing Election Violence in 2016: Lessons from 2012.’

Ghana, in recent times, recorded some frightening pockets of armed clashes involving vigilante groups from the two major political parties in the country –the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The activities of these party vigilante groups, namely the Bolga Bull Dogs and Azorka Boys from the NPP and the NDC respectively, and the proliferation of arms in the country, could thrust the nation into chaos, argued some security experts.

They, therefore, warned that the political landscape in the country leading to this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections is heating up, threatening the country’s security. Corroborating the fears expressed by the experts, C/Supt. Agordzo said: “These”, referring to the activities of the party vigilante groups, “could disrupt the peaceful conduct of the elections.”

“We cannot afford to fail,” he declared. According to him, it was based on this development that the early inauguration of the National Election Security Task Force (NESTF) was performed. The NESTF, according to the Police Chief, was to ensure the overall security of the elections, hence, maintaining peace at the polling stations on election day. He said it would also identify trouble prone areas in all constituencies in the respective regions for effective policing.

Continuing, he noted that it (NESTF) would also identify inaccessible areas for advance planning to secure boats, canoes, bicycles, motorbikes and helicopters to lift election officials and materials to secure successful elections. “Today, the Election Security Task Force has become an integral part of our system, supporting the Electoral Commission to achieve its mandate,” C/Supt. Agordzo told the gathering.

“Its focus is to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate strategies to ensure preparations of the security agencies and other stakeholders in creating a safe environment for peaceful elections,” he added. Former National Security Coordinator Kofi Bentum Quantson said the acrimonies and recklessness that plagued the 2012 elections still linger.

According to him, they have assumed dangerous proportions, threatening the entire democratic process.  Mr. Quantson, who is also a former Director of the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), did not mince words when he described inter and intra-party lawlessness in Ghana as “incrementally alarming.”

“The nature of our volatile political landscape, plus the intransigent fixed attitudes of leading political actors, and the deliberate negative propaganda in operation, make almost every innocuous activity a thunder box, waiting to explode,” he said. He said the current political environment, since the 2012 elections, depicts an exceedingly dry Harmattan shrub needing a little spark to unleash a fiery devastation.

“That is the reality of our situation,” observed Mr. Quantson, who is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Coalition of Domestic Elections Observers (CODEO). The Head of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center, Dr. Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, warned that the clashes that ensued during the Talensi by-election, involving the NPP and NDC vigilante groups, should not be taken for granted.

He, therefore, urged that all minor incidences within the country should be viewed as potential sources of electoral violence. Also, he said that moderate incidences should be regarded as potential accelerators of electoral violence, and that there should be targeted admonition and appeals as a strategy to facilitate dialogue among political actors to help minimise their occurrence and impact.

Political Industry
According to Mr. Quantson, rather than itemising the trigger points, he would encapsulate all the possible flashpoints into a quantum security box labeled the “political industry”, from which “our political arrows shoot at us.”

He observed that the base of Ghanaian politics, over the years, has transformed into a multi-billion cedi industry, whose operations are targeted at money making, espousing a skewed notion that politics was about acquiring power to make money. This, he stated, accounts, not only for the inter-party political acrimonies, but the alarmingly mindless intra-party bloodletting.

By Mohammed Awal

([email protected])

More General News »

This article has 1 comments, leave your comment.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login