Ghana: Is the Kumasi Peace Pact a mere window dressing?
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Efforts by the Asantehene, the Ghana Peace Council, and others that culminated into the signing of the Kumasi Peace Pact by flagbearers of the various political parties contesting next Friday’s general elections are commendable.
The events leading to this accord clearly portray the already-high and ever-rising tension in the country as a result of the uncompromising stance of the various political activists, especially those of the NDC and its main rival, the NPP, who consider the elections as a do-me-I-do-you death warrant.
The Peace Pact couldn’t have been signed at a better time than this pre-election period because it underlines the apprehensions of Ghanaians; and those who brokered it have truly demonstrated their desire for peace in the country. That’s an integral aspect of the leadership qualities that some of our political party leaders lack and seem not to appreciate.
If for nothing at all, the Peace Pact underscores the desire of Ghanaians to live in a peaceful atmosphere, regardless of who wins or loses the upcoming elections. Or whether they are rich or poor. They need peace to live their lives on this earth.
Peace is a prerequisite to national stability, which the Kumasi Peace Pact underscores. So, we now have a document to refer to in our assessment of the political situation in the country. It qualifies as a preventive measure. And because prevention will always be better than cure, this Pact should be respected and obeyed in both its letter and spirit!
Truly, the letter of this Peace Pact is conspicuously evident. But there is a worrying aspect that threatens the viability of the Pact itself. The spirit of the pact is missing, which is troubling. The problem is not the making of those who brokered this Pact but by those who appended their signature to the Pact but have turned round to undermine the spirit behind the Pact through their public posturing and pronouncements.
Prevailing circumstances strongly suggest that this attitude won’t solve any problem unless the spirit behind the Pact is upheld and given traction to drive the politicking going on.
Undeniably, the mere coming into force of this Peace Pact is valueless at this point unless its terms are enforced outright. How will those terms be enforced, anyway? By whom? Clearly, the situation on the ground isn’t improving to allay lingering doubts and concerns. So, is the Peace Pact a mere window dressing?
Genuine doubts exist whether this Pact will solve the problems that necessitated its enunciation. The persistent virulent and intemperate language that heightened tension is still being used by political activists in their campaigns. Personal attacks are unceasing, and intimidation and the issuing of threats have remained the main political tools.
Circulation of all manner of “secret tapes” and the writing of damaging opinion pieces on Ghanaweb and the other online media by lackeys of the various political parties know no bounds. The peddling of falsehood and outright nonsense for political advantage is on the rise.
Police in Obuasi have arrested two suspects for allegedly vandalizing a car belonging to the NPP MP for Adansi-Akrofuom Constituency in the Ashanti Region.
Physical assaults as recorded in Kyebi (Akufo-Addo’s hometown) on the occasion of President Mahama’s political campaigns in that area won’t end just because a so-called Peace Pact has been signed. There is no indication that the party leaders have put in place any measure to control tempers or to help their followers redirect their energies elsewhere in their public outreach programmes. It is a clear case of brawn being privileged over brains.
I am particularly disgusted by what is coming from both the NDC and the NPP. While the NDC’s activists have maintained their vilification of Akufo-Addo, the NPP activists have intensified their wolf-crying, using all manner of dangerous speculation, alarming allegations, and outright fear-mongering to effect.
To worsen the matter, the public posturing of the NPP’s main figures is reprehensible. Much has already been said about the conduct of Akufo-Addo just before the Pact came into being when he made pronouncements on the podium, laying down conditions to ensure the viability of the Pact.
He cited instances of alleged brutalities against the NPP’s activists and called for investigations and a report on them to confirm that the government was committed to peace-making. Or before the NPP would play its part. How could Akufo-Addo alone take it upon himself to lay down conditions—all happening after he had openly told the Asantehene that he had no grievance to complain about?
We recall that the Asantehene had urged all the flagbearers to lay bare any worries to be addressed before the signing of the Pact. Akufo-Addo was quick to say that he had no grievance only to mount the podium thereafter to state conditions.
As if he hadn’t already given enough reason for his commitment to the Pact to be doubted, he didn’t deem it prudent to cite the assault on NDC functionaries by their NPP counterparts during the Kyebi mayhem just a few days before the signing of that Pact. Nor did he condemn that brutality. To him, it was a “measure for measure” that suited the NDC victims right but not the NPP followers in Asutifi that he complained about. Peace-making is a give-and-take affair, not an Oliver Twist asking for more!
Then again, Akufo-Addo didn’t deem it appropriate to renounce his war-laden “All-die-be-die” clarion call nor did he consider it worth his bother to re-conscientize those NPP functionaries who might have already taken up his war-mongering cry in readiness for acts of destabilization if the polls don’t go the NPP’s way.
Indeed, Akufo-Addo failed to know that peace is not only the absence of war but that it can’t also be sustained by his insistence on bulldozing his way through, doubting the integrity of the country’s security services (by labelling them as not “political colour-blind”).
As if that’s not worrying enough, former President Kufuor is also openly mongering fear that the government will use the Special Forces Unit of the Ghana Armed Forces to intimidate or brutalize its political opponents and rig the elections in its favour. He said so at Tamale yesterday.
“We never had people to train them to be machos and Special Forces. We didn’t want to frighten anybody; that is not the role of government. But here now in Ghana people are afraid [of] the Special Forces. Why should our own government—people we put in power—turn around to frighten us so they continue to take the power by force from us. It’s not good,” he said.
I don’t intend to unpack these wayward utterances, but I consider them as unbecoming of someone who had for 8 years been the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and should have been circumspect in his public pronouncements on the place of the military in national affairs. But he let his tongue loose, adding to the tons of troubling signals coming from the camp of the NPP.
We are even not talking about Kennedy Agyapong’s allegation that personnel of the NADMO were poised to tamper with ballot boxes in favour of the NDC. Or the allegation by Konadu Apraku that the government would mastermind electricity outage in the NPP’s so-called strongholds to disrupt voting; or that there was a dress rehearsal to that effect already going on.
Then, we turn to the Eastern region, where a member of the Regional Communication Team of the NPP, David Prah, “descended heavily on the Regional Police Commander over comments made on an Accra-based radio station to the effect that, he had seen a sample of a machete purported to have the inscription ‘all die be die’” and gave the Police Commander an ultimatum to “publicly beat a retreat or tender in his resignation by close of the week” (Myjoyonline, Nov. 28, 2012).
He also “threatened that the NPP will refuse to cooperate with the police if he declines to withdraw the comment and further resign his post.”
There are many other instances of unguarded pronouncements or belligerent public posturing that do nothing but undermine the tenets of the Peace Pact. In other words, the NPP is acting the same old way as if no Peace Pact exists to guide its politicking.
Simple questions emerge: Why is it that it is only the NPP out of all the other parties contesting the elections that feels threatened by goings-on in the country to give conditions regarding peace-making? Or to present itself as a victim of political machinations? Why is the NPP’s Akufo-Addo alone so insistent on having things done his way or… all die will be die?
I don’t want to impute any sinister motive to him at this point, but I can confidently say that all that is emerging from the NPP’s camp is nothing but an orchestrated attempt to create favourable conditions for the party’s followers to implement whatever agenda they might be hatching for the polls.
I don’t think that the mere enunciation and signing of a document outlining measures for peace will curb any political violence. Not until the leaders of the various parties take prompt and decisive measures to control their followers, the situation will likely worsen and throw the country into chaos.
But it should be clear to all that no one will profit from any electoral violence. I wish that those deceiving themselves that becoming Ghana’s President is an entitlement for which they must move heaven and earth to actualize their dreams will be taught a bitter lesson if their unbridled ambitions provoke violence.
It shouldn’t be difficult for them to be identified and dealt with once and for all. If that is what they are working for, they should be ready for it. After sowing the wind and nurturing it into a whirlwind, they must be prepared for the harvest that the hurricane bears. Let those who have ears hear!!