GNA – The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) on Thursday, launched its Election 2020 project declaring a war on political vigilantism and electoral violence in the country.
“We wish to inform the entire nation, as we warm up for Election 2020. The GJA stands firmly against political vigilantism and electoral violence, and with the launch of this project, our weapons for this warfare are not guns and cutlasses as our opponents wield.
“They are pens, cameras and microphones which we will deploy to pull down every stronghold of political violence and vigilantism. We solemnly pledge never to flinch in our resolve to deal with these political monsters before they devour us,” Mr Roland Affail Monney, the President of the GJA said.
The 14 months GJA Election project is on the theme: “No to Political Vigilantism and Electoral Violence in Ghana.”
He said the GJA was optimistic that the role of media in interfacing directly with a cohort of state institutions, political parties, civil society and the private sector would contribute to add another milestone to the ongoing initiative by state institutions to disband political vigilantism, such as the mediating role of the National Peace Council.
Mr Monney noted that electoral violence had characterised all general and bye-elections in Ghana, at least since 1992 when the Fourth Republic was ushered in.
The nation had also recorded other forms of threats from ethnic conflicts, communal conflicts, and chieftaincy conflicts, among others.
Some of these violence and conflicts, he said, had rendered communities and citizens internally and externally displaced and while their sources were yet to be fully resolved, they had been compounded in recent times by new forms of threat such as political vigilantism and election violence.
Mr Monney said the electoral violence that rocked the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency bye-election on January 31, 2019, and consequently resulting in the shooting of citizens, sent a strong signal of the potential threats of political vigilantism to Election 2020.
The GJA, he said believed in a strong linkage between electoral violence and political vigilantism and the potential threats they posed to peaceful, credible elections and national cohesion.This, therefore placed enormous responsibility on state and non-state actors, including the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, political parties, security agencies, media and civil society to devise mechanisms to tackle the threats.
The GJA President said law enforcement alone was not the “silver bullet” to addressing political vigilantism and electoral violence in Ghana, adding that, it was worth considering the integrated set of interventions which embraced law enforcement, targeted media actions for citizenship education, and conflict sensitive reporting towards peace-building processes.
The infiltration of the radical groups into the nation’s body politic, he said, was an indictment on the collective sense of security and public safety.
Mr George Amoh, the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Peace Council, who launched the Project, said about half of the countries in West Africa would conduct a general election this year, hence, Ghana could not trade its peace with an intention of fleeing to enjoy peace in neighbouring countries.
He said Ghana had come a long way to maintain peace and had a core responsibility to strive to maintain it.
The Peace Council he said would embark on peace promotional campaign across the country to yield more positive results.
Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, said no business could survive in a chaotic and anarchical state and therefore, urged the business community to support the peace keeping initiative by increasing their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).
The CSR activities could include employing more of the unemployed youth so that they could not be lured into such unlawful acts in the name of obtaining financial support to secure their livelihoods.
He called on journalists to use their platforms to use the effects of electoral violence acts especially in other countries to educate and advise the citizenry to serve as a caution.GNA