Private legal practitioner Dr Ernest Kofi Abotsi is warning of violence in Ghana’s parliamentary and presidential elections in December this year.
He contends that there is “near absence of good faith” on the part of the two main dominant parties in the election –the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress.
That, he indicated, makes violence prospect highly probable in the elections scheduled for December 7.
“The ongoing accusations between the two parties and the refusal of the NDC to execute peace deals are ample testaments to what awaits us in the upcoming elections” he stated at a commemorative forum on the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission Report.
The lecture, organised by Media General with support from Star Ghana, was on the theme; “Promoting stability: Electoral violence and the 2020 elections”
While commending the intervention taken by the government in the AWW by-election violent incident, Dr Abotsi argued that more needs to be done in the area of anticipatory steps to deal with the issue of electoral violence in Ghana relative to the 2020 elections.
The man who was the secretary to the Emile Short Commission that investigated the Ayawaso West Wuogon violence observed there is still a market space for organised violence in Ghana’s elections despite the passage of the vigilante law.
He observed that because there is ready market for violence, “the supply side has been active,” indicating that effective policing and enforcement strategies are required to combat such violence acts and behavior which he said must be viewed purely as criminal.
“2020 elections can only succeed if these lawless groups are kept in check and uprooted,” he suggested.
The law lecturer said the activities of lawless groups who parade in the name of political parties are mutually reinforcing because “the success of one group incentivizes the other”.
He was expressed reservation about the extent to which people who put themselves up for public office, can go, noting they “are willing to kill each other or people” in order to serve.
“I think we have gotten to the point where our leaders must actually denounce political party vigilantism with all the force they can; it undermines the very essence of public service, the essence of public service being an act of service and not an act of benefit by the reason which I must endure the risk,” he said.
Vigilantism, Dr Abotsi stated, is antithetical to citizenship.
For him, it should vigilantism should be treated as treason, in that “if you indulge yourself in vigilante behaviour, which is designed ultimately to overthrow the establishment through elections, you’re challenging the very essence of the state and the state has reserved death penalty”.