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16.01.2006 Feature Article

Of Thuggery And Political Skullduggery

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Ghana's burgeoning democracy is in danger. Depending on your political alignment one is bound to agree or disagree with this assertion. Even the elite political class seem nonplussed about this assertion- clueless, even.

But the writing on the wall is so clear- that unbridled violence in our politics of the kind witnessed during the delegates' congress of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the non-committal approach of government towards reining in combative elements within the New Patriotic Party (NPP) constitute a clear and present danger to our democratic experiment. One need not have a degree in nuclear physics to see the signs of potential political turmoil on the horizon, especially as we approach the homestretch for the next general elections in 2008.

While many would chide me for the ominous tenor in the opening paragraph of this article I believe that the future of our nascent democracy is imperilled by acts of violence that have been perpetrated by operatives of political parties that have largely gone unchecked and even unreported. So I guess the rider to this article should have carried the following warning, “Article inappropriate for POLITICAL OSTRICHES both in the NPP and the NDC.”

Lord Commey's comments about his party's sponsorship of Action Troopers, as well as the NDC's sponsorship of the Bawku Boys and the violence perpetrated on Madam Frances Essiam and other pro-Obed supporters at the 2005 delegate's congress of the NDC in the full glare of members of the diplomatic community and personnel of the Police Service ought to be an eye-opener to all Ghanaians about this inherent danger and the mounting need for it to be addressed by the appropriate authorities.

Don't take my word for it.

It took a well-coordinated attack on Frances Essiam and other NDC supporters, in which her attackers used horsewhips as weapons of choice for her to come to terms with the seriousness of this danger.

Thugs allegedly sponsored by the Rawlings camp openly taunted supporters of Dr. Obed Asamoah and bayed for the blood of the former party chairman. Dr. Obed Asamoah and Kweku Baah who have served or represented the interest of the party in several capacities believe the party has now become an organisation that openly supports and sponsors “terrorist” activities.

Mr. Kweku Baah, who once served as a lawyer for former President Rawlings left the party few days after the Congress, saying the party had been hijacked by people opposed to pluralism and consensus.

“I don't think I can belong to that party any longer. In my political career, which spans over a period of 40 years I have never believed that political decisions had to be arrived at as a result of struggling, intimidation and clearly what amounts to terrorist acts”.

This writer has on several occasions raised concern over the control former President Rawlings has over the radical elements in the NDC and how that could make or break the party that has the largest following outside government. The NDC Congress in Koforidua has painted a very grim picture about the state of party politics in Ghana.

The fact that violence was visited on ordinary Obed supporters and a very visible and prominent personality in the party without the slightest condemnation by the party apparatus sends the message to all and sundry that every dissenting voice in the party is fair game. It also implies that violence against dissenting voices in the party is a de-facto party policy to keep order within its ranks.

If this logic is to be stretched, then potential converts to the NDC ought to be worried, because as the saying goes “if your neighbour's beard catches fire, fetch a bucket of water near you as the fire could spread to you.” While the spin-doctors in the NDC would make rooftop declarations that the outcome of the Koforidua Congress bodes well for the party in the future, the truth is that it has exposed the party as an organisation that thrives on violence and disorder.

If Ghanaians voted against the NDC because it had been defined as a party of violence by its opponents, what transpired at the Koforidua Congress has only come to confirm what until now had been a perception that the party dabbled in violent activities.

Action of any kind cannot be taken unless Lord Commey's alleged disclosure on the existence of Action Troopers in the NPP and Bawku Boys in the NDC has been thoroughly investigated, and if found to be true, dismantled. Lunatic fringes or fringe elements abound in every party, but the ability to keep their activities under tabs is the key to stability in every democracy. The activities of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) continue to undermine peace efforts in Northern Ireland because Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA has failed to keep them in check. This apparent failure has consigned a whole people to a bleak future.

Ghana's infant democracy has to be protected from the ruthless control of people who equate dissent with betrayal or treachery. This is a task that should engage the body politick as we make our way to elections 2008. For those in the NDC, their work is very well cut out for them.

To err on the side of precaution could be just the act of choice dissenting voices in the NDC like John Mahama, Baba Jamal, Haruna Iddrisu, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo - to name but a few, have to employ to avoid sharing a fact similar to Frances Essiam's. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Paa Kwesi Plange
Paa Kwesi Plange, © 2006

The author has 46 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: PaaKwesiPlange

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