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Akufo-Addo advised to shut up on NPP, NDC dialogue

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been commended by a former army officer for initiating the process of dialogue between the country’s two major political parties on ending political party vigilantism.

But retired Colonel Festus Aboagye, a former Commander of West African multilateral armed forces ECOMOG, says it will not be appropriate for the president to make further comments about the issue let alone “banter” with a chairman of one of the parties involved.

Speaking on TV3’s The Key Points on Saturday, Colonel (rtd) Aboagye said the president’s call for the dialogue is enough and the process can take its course thither.

However, making further comments makes him, the president, take a position similar to one of the parties’.

“He has initiated the discourse, more or less he has obliged the chairpersons of those two political parties to talk. He should leave it at that.”

President Akufo-Addo on Thursday, February 21 during his address on the state of the nation in Parliament called on leadership of his party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to invite its opposite number in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for dialogue on how to disband their respective militias.

But he further warned that “if voluntary disbandment by the parties is not feasible, then I will initiate a legislation on the matter”.

NDC’s National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, responded to the president’s call by writing to make suggestions regarding the process.

President Akufo-Addo equally responded to the letter from the NDC chief, expressing shock at calls by the opposition party for a mediator.

“I am not aware of any vigilante groups that are associated with any of these bodies, as your letter suggests. Political party vigilante activity in the country has, unfortunately, been associated with the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party. I, thus, see little basis for your request,” the president wrote in his response.

This, Colonel (rtd) Aboagye found, was not befitting of the president.

According to him, Mr Akufo-Addo is the president of Ghana and not the president of the NPP and so must speak for all.

“I think if we hear from him again in a letter not addressing the fundamental issues but just stating positions, it will be undermining the presidency.

“And that’s my humble advice.”

Classical mediation

He said the positions espoused by the NPP and NDC is normal in classical mediation.

“In classical mediation environments, these are positions,” he observed.

“Indeed, I would like to state that the conditions set out in the president’s first letter are positions of the NPP because there is no authority that is given to the president to determine the conditions under which a mediation should take place.

“So, if he sets conditions between the two parties [and] the other party says no, I agree that we should talk but i agree that we should invite other people as mediators.

These are positions and these positions must be mediated.”

He backed calls for international organisations such as the UN and ECOWAS to serve as mediators, citing how the late Kofi Annan was engaged to mediate the political conflict in Kenya in 2008.

“But I would wish that even if we don’t go for the UN or ECOWAS, beside the [National] Peace Council, there are other institutions of state that have a stake in the integrity of our democracy.”

He therefore suggested eminent chiefs and even trade unions as possible mediators.

“When you have conflict informed by deep mistrust and resentment on the part of the conflicting parties against one another and to the extent that each of these parties has compromised the moral authority that they have to dictate how to resolve those issues, there is need for a third-party, neutral arbitor to come.”

He also backed the widening of the dialogue to include of other political parties.

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana

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