As Ghana gears up towards the 2016 election, incidences of political violence have been reported in various parts of the country.
The most recent case of such violence occurred on Sunday when supporters of the two main political parties - the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) - clashed in front of the residence of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, the NPP flag-bearer, during a health walk exercise organized by the ruling NDC. Security personnel reportedly fired gunshots while others threw stones.
The incidence has so far given the opportunity to various civil society organizations and international bodies to extend calls to various security agencies to boost their security systems as citizens are also urged to desist from any violent activity.
In a press statement released on Monday, 14 November, the US Embassy in Ghana urged the leadership of various political parties to call their members to order and further warned that perpetrators of violence would face some form of sanction, as such violence has no place in the conduct of peaceful elections.
The UK High Commission similarly condemned the violent activities erupting. In a press release, the Commission stated that it reserves the right to take action against anyone engaging in or inciting political violence, including refusing or revoking visas.
With 22 days to the General Elections on 7 December, violent actions have been recorded in about five regions and are mainly fought between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP)
Seven candidates are confirmed participants in the Presidential Polls and the Electoral Commission is also involved in basic preparatory activities around the country to ensure a peaceful election.
So far, both embassies have confirmed that they would withhold or withdraw visas of individuals found guilty of engaging in violence before, during and after the elections to ensure a due democratic process.
Below are Statements from the US and UK Embassies respectively.
US Embassy Statement
Accra, GHANA – The United States condemns all political violence in Ghana, especially any violent acts directed at political candidates, their homes or families. While campaigns can be vigorous and sometimes contentious, violence has no place in the electoral process.
In the period leading up to and following Ghana’s elections on December 7, we call on all actors to remain peaceful and respect the democratic process. We encourage all parties to make it clear to their constituents that any violence or attempts to use intimidation to disrupt the democratic process is unacceptable. The United States will consider all options to hold responsible those who incite political violence, including denying or revoking visas.
The United States applauds Ghana’s tradition of peaceful, democratic elections. The international community is working with the Electoral Commission, National and Regional Peace Councils, NGOs, civil society organizations, the media, the police and others to support Ghana’s efforts to hold credible and nonviolent presidential elections. We urge all to participate peacefully in the democratic process—before, during and after Election Day.
The government of the United States does not support a particular candidate or a particular party. We support democracy. We will continue to work with the freely elected government of Ghana, just as we always have.
UK High Commission Statement:
The British Government expresses its concern at recent incidents of political violence in Ghana in the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections on 7 December.
We condemn all violent acts by the supporters of any political party, including any occurring as a result of holding electoral campaign events close to the private homes of rival candidates.
The UK is a great supporter of Ghana’s democracy and of maintaining its electoral record. We admire the open and energetic nature of its campaigns. We believe that violence has absolutely no place in the electoral process.
We therefore call on all Ghana’s political actors to promote peace, and to respect Ghana’s electoral and constitutional processes. All political parties should strongly urge their supporters to refrain from, and indeed actively to condemn, any violence, incitement or intimidation which only serve to undermine democracy.
The UK reserves the right to take action against anyone engaging in or inciting political violence, including considering refusing or revoking visas.
The UK will continue to work with Ghanaian institutions, including the Electoral Commission, Police, Judiciary, National Peace Council, civil society groups and the media to support Ghana’s efforts to hold credible, peaceful and fair elections. The UK remains entirely neutral in those elections.