The Central Regional Peace Council has called on the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to crack the whip on Mavis Hawa Koomson, Member of Parliament for Awutu-Senya East, for firing a gun at a voters’ registration centre at Kasoa.
This, it said, will instill discipline and serve as deterrent to others.
“The party which Koomson belongs to must crack the whip and as a Minister of State, she must tender in her resignation honourably to save the government from public disgrace and ridicule,” it stated.
A statement signed by Mr. Matthew Eghan, the Chairman of the Regional Peace Council, indicated that it had noted with grave concern pockets of violence that had characterized the ongoing voters’ registration exercise.
The statement said the use of intemperate language and violence would only serve to undermine the country’s democratic credence and that the law and discipline ought to be made to work as a way of dealing with the growing culture of impunity in the country.
Ghana was founded on the rule of law and everything must be done in accordance with the law which must be applied without fear or favour, it said.
The statement implored Ghanaians to have trust and confidence in the justice system whilst employing appropriate channels to seek redress to their concerns, grievances and differences instead of taking the law into their own hands to mar the country’s democratic credentials.
It appealed to all the political parties to exercise calm and restraint whilst the police investigate the incident that led to the firing of gunshots by the MP and the burning of motorbikes and bring the perpetrators to book.
The statement reminded all political parties, particularly the NPP and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), of the agreement they signed against vigilantism and asked them to restrain their members from engaging in acts of violence.
“The irony of the situation is that whilst the Council through its regional offices is waging strong advocacy campaign aimed at raising awareness of the existence of the vigilantism law(Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999) across the country, the reported cases of violence at the registration centres are on the rise.”
The Council said the political parties had failed woefully to play the game by the rules, resulting in hostilities at some voters’ registration centres.
On challenging the eligibility or otherwise of a registrant, the Council said the procedures by the Electoral Commission (EC)is unambiguous, clear and simple should not results in any violence.
“The EC’s procedures clearly spells out how a person’s illegibility can be challenged but what seems to beat the imagination of the Council is the deployment of unconventional methods by the political parties to gain advantage in the electoral process,” it said.
The Council kicked against the practice of bussing prospective registrants from places different from their places of residence as giving rise to the tension and confusion at the registration centres.
The Council encouraged political parties to disengage from the unhealthy acts saying “the practice must not be allowed to rear its ugly head and mar the beauty of our democracy which has won the admiration of all and sundry.”
The statement said the Council was not against any individual or group of individuals using press conferences, and any form of demonstrations to press home their demands for fairness and justice, which is within their constitutional ambit.
It rather strongly frowns on all forms of violence directed at innocent people going to exercise their civic rights to register and vote, it said.
The Council appealed to all political parties particularly the NPP and NDC to show greater commitment to the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019(Act 999), Roadmap for the Eradication of Political Vigilantism and Code of Conduct for political parties.
The Council reaffirmed its commitment to ensure the peace, security and protection of all people in the Region and called on all and sundry to strive for peace, love, tolerance, respect, understanding and let go off fighting, threats, insults, and resentment.
Ghanaians must endeavour to sidestep any negative tendencies that will undermine the collective effort to build a united and strong society for all.
“As the 2020 election approaches, the Council wants to remind all political actors that Ghana is the only country we have and cherish. There is no substitute for peace, so the relative peace we are enjoying as a country should be guarded jealously by all,” the statement said.