Some 12 civil society organisation doubt if allowing the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress alone to dialogue on the issue of party militia will yield any meaningful results.
The organisations at a consultative meeting convened by the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) said the lack of trust between the two major parties in previous instances makes the call for only the two parties to meet on the issue, dead on arrival.
“In the past, mutual suspicion and mistrust between the two parties have led to the failure of political dialogues in Parliament, during post-election transitions, and in the drafting and amendment of the Constitution.
“This has been the case in almost all national endeavours which have required the collaboration of the two parties for success. This historical evidence suggests that approaching the political dialogue bilaterally…. is more likely to lead to failure,” the groups said.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo while delivering the State of the Nation Address last month proposed a meeting between the two leading parties to strategise on how to bring to an end the activities of party militia groups in the country.
He asked the leadership NDC and the NPP to meet within a seven-day period and agree on appropriate measures to end the phenomenon which have led to violent incidences in the last few years.
The latest being the shootings that led to the injury of at least 15 persons at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 31.
President Akufo-Addo said he would be forced to initiate legislation to end the operations of such violent groups if the voluntary disbandment fails.
The NDC wrote back to the president accepting his proposal. In the letter signed by NDC National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, the main opposition party said they will avail themselves “of the opportunity whenever at the pleasure of Your Excellency and at a venue convenient for the purpose.”
But the NDC, in the letter, proposed an expansion: the opposition party wants the discussions to include all political parties, civil society organizations, representatives of the media, representatives of the military, police and other security agencies, as well as any other relevant stakeholders.
He said “I am dismayed, and I believe that the Ghanaian people share my dismay, that the two parties who have dominated and continue to dominate the politics of the Fourth Republic, who between them have garnered at least 95% of the votes in each of the seven general elections of the Fourth Republic, who have provided all seven governments of the 4th Republic, who are the only parties currently represented in the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic, cannot meet to dialogue on matters of our nation’s governance and political culture, without the intervention of outsiders, including foreign entities, no matter how well-meaning.
“I had hoped that the proposed meeting would be without preconditions on either side,” the President’s letter added.
The NDC has written back to the President, maintaining their stance for the dialogue to be widened and the CFI agrees with them.
They added in their statement that a successful take-off of the dialogue would require technical facilitation that could bring the two parties to bilateral talks as soon as possible.
“We believe that the CSOs with competence, integrity, and proven track records could engage to support this process.
“We fully endorse the dialogue process as the way to deal with the mutual mistrust and find an enduring and amicable solution to the recurring threat to Ghana’s democracy, peace and security,” the statement added.