The African Union Political Affairs Department has urged the government to take steps to disband political vigilante groups in the country.
The Director of Political Affairs of AU, Dr Khabele Matlosa, found it disappointing that vigilante groups still exist in Ghana almost three years after an observer team from the AU asked political parties in the country to disband such groups.
Dr Khabele Matlosa recounted what the political vigilante groups did in the 2016 election and raised concern in their election report.
“If you bring militias into parties then you are usurping the responsibility or mandated jurisdiction of the police, so we need to be very careful of this. I can’t remember the exact words we used in our observation during the 2016 election, but we did indicate that political vigilante groups were a wrong approach to electoral politics peace.”
“We know, that both the NPP and NDC have the tradition of establishing militias. Those militias need to be disbanded, let’s not politicise security, let’s not securitize politics,” he said.
The Ayawaso West By-election Violence has added up to the concerns raised about the potential danger political vigilantism poses to Ghana’s democracy.
Speaking to Citi News on the sidelines of the 32nd AU Summit, Dr Matlosa said Ghana must not tarnish its democratic credentials with electoral violence.
In January, the Director General of the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards Bureau (PIPS), COP Nathan Kofi Boakye, warned of an escalation of violence in the 2020 electioneering period should the government fail to stop the operations of political vigilante groups.
“If political thuggery is not stopped now, from 2020 there will be an explosion …As at yesterday, there was the formation of Eastern Mambas and because of the entrepreneurship related to vigilantism, by 2020 you will hear about Ivor Flakes, Kwesi Anning Tigers because now people are going to form groups for hire.”
“I must tell you that these vigilantes have no loyalty to any of the parties…When I see some of these vigilante groups, I cringe because I know them personally. The Police administration from time immemorial has been poised to fight any crime. What we are seeing now is the political thuggery within the parties.”
There have been a number of attacks staged by vigilante groups under both the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration and the current New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
The Minority has blamed President Nana Akufo-Addo for failing to deal with vigilantism as the Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces.
Many of the attacks staged by vigilante groups under the Nana Addo administration include the attack on the Tamale Teaching Hospital CEO and the Delta Force’s attacks in Kumasi among others.