British High Commissioner tells Ghana political parties to disband vigilante groups
Jon Benjamin, British High Commissioner to Ghana, has advised political parties in the country to disband all political vigilante groups across the country for a peaceful 2016 general election.
He said the existence of such groups in the country was inconsistent with modern democratic governance saying; “we do not think that maintaining groups of party militia or vigilantes is compatible with 21st century electoral democracy. It is in fact potentially dangerous and threatens the very existence of peace in Ghana”.
Mr Benjamin, whose speech was read for him during a National Interfaith Dialogue in Tamale on Wednesday, said the maintenance of peace in the country was the exclusive job of the police and urged all political parties to disown and disband any group of vigilantes associated with them.
He said the British Government was happy to work with religious leaders, traditional and community leaders and other stakeholders to help maintain Ghana’s enviable peace record promising that Britain was ready to work with anybody Ghanaians would elect in November.
The High Commissioner said religious intolerance was a global phenomenon and contributed to intra and inter-religious conflicts stressing that religious conflicts were becoming increasingly prevalent and must be prevented from occurring in Ghana.
“The emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria and other religious clashes in Africa have further become a potential threat to peace and stability, particularly in the West African sub-region. Although religious extremism has not established roots in Ghana, the interfaith harmony which coexists cannot be taken for granted,” he said.
Reverend Father Thaddeus Kuusah, Executive Secretary of the Northern Regional Peace Council, cautioned that the country must not take for granted the current spate of political vigilante groups with over 100 of such groups in the Northern Region alone.
He said the country could not develop peacefully with the existence of such groups explaining that such groups were inimical to the development of the country and appealed for the need for non-violence approach towards the 2016 elections.
Sheikh Dr Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, National Chief Imam of Ghana, in a speech read for him, urged all Muslims to co-exist peacefully with their neighbours.
He said Islam viewed peace as an important ingredient to foster nation building and appealed to all Ghanaians not to relent in their efforts at sustaining peace during and after the 2016 general election.