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Ghana: UN envoy seeks unregulated security forces ban ahead of polls

By Dasmani Laary
Posted on Monday, 20 June 2016 12:48

The emissary, who represents West Africa and the Sahel, made the call after concluding a fact-finding mission to the West African country, during which he discussed security concerns with political actors about conditions necessary for credible and peaceful polls in November.

Once again the international community has high expectations

Chambas told journalists last Friday that parallel security bodies could comprise general security during the elections and impressed on political party leaders to remove such entities from their structures and ensure they did not play any role in the electoral process.

Political parties have always been accused of funding notorious groups like Kandahar Boys, Bolga Bulldogs and Azorka Boys, who have been named severally in violent clashes.

There are fears the continuous existence and operations of these forces could foment trouble in the upcoming presidential and legislative polls just six months away.

Ghana’s two dominant parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – have been chided for failing to cut ties with these militias.

“I wish to seize this opportunity to appeal to the political parties to show leadership and expunge from their structures, as well as dissociate completely from such groups in support of their formations,” Chambas said.

“We acknowledge that these groups are likely to stir a political climate of intolerance and violence that cannot be conducive and helpful in the preparations towards the impending elections.”

Aggrieved parties were encouraged to use of existing mechanisms for dialogue and dispute resolution to curtail potential violence.

Officials of the West Africa country’s Electoral Commission (EC), political parties, the chief justice, Peace Council, domestic election observers, international partners and the media participated in the discourse seeking to level grounds, as campaign activities swing into action.

The UN mission followed an earlier working visit to Ghana this year to dialogue with stakeholders to take steps to create favourable conditions towards the country’s polls projected to be a close race between the ruling NDC’s John Dramani Mahama and the NPP’s Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo.

The election is proving to be an extraordinary one, with high stakes and great challenges, drawing key UN officials including former secretary general, Kofi Anan who is expected to speak on credible and peaceful elections as prerequisite for Africa’s progress.

The lecture is expected to touch on the high stakes of the 2016 elections, and highlight the stakeholders and political actors’ obligations to ensure successful elections.

“At a time when the advantages of democracy are being contested in various parts of the world, Annan will reaffirm the importance of credible and peaceful elections for Africa’s peace and progress,” Ghanaian policy think tank, Centre for Democratic Development, said in a statement.

The road to Ghana’s polls has been somewhat rocky, following the country’s Supreme Court ruling – early this year – ordering the EC to erase names of illegal voters from the electoral roll.

As anxiety rises, political watchers say the EC need to launch a thoughtful strategy, careful tactics and deeply involve political players.

Ghana’s Peace Council has been encouraged to initiate a consultative process that will see presidential aspirants sign peace accord, as was done in 2012, which became known as the Kumasi Declaration, to guarantee successful elections.

“Once again the international community has high expectations that the upcoming presidential and legislative elections would be conducted in a peaceful and credible manner, in line with this well-deserved reputation as a model for the region and beyond,” Chambas said.

An estimated 14,031,793 voters are expected to cast their ballots at 26,906 polling stations in an election expected see 25 political parties contest.

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