Ghana's ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is sharply denying Ex-President Jerry Rawlings' accusation that the party is arming its supporters ahead of this year's general elections. The ruling party described the former president's comment as an unfortunate accusation that could potentially incite people to engage in violence before, during and after the elections. Mr. Rawlings reportedly said the ruling NPP was arming its supporters to cow opponents into submission and to hold onto power. Some security experts say the former president's accusation is a subtle way of informing opposition supporters to take up arms and defend themselves.
Nana Ohene-Ntow is the general secretary of Ghana's ruling NPP party. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi that the former president's accusation is baseless and untoward.
"To say the least, I think that this is a very unfortunate statement from a former head of state who presided over the proliferation of small arms throughout the Ghanaian society during his PNDC (Provisional National Defense Council) / NDC (National Democratic Congress) rule, where he himself propagated what he called the democratization of violence, and saw to it that systematically, unorthodox organizations such as Civil Defense Organizations and Militia organizations, and all sorts of people were armed to the teeth. And this has created a phenomenal security problem in Ghana up until today," Ohene-Ntow pointed out.
He said President John Kufuor's government has not been able to deal with the proliferation of arms allegedly brought into the country by the Rawlings administration.
"Up until today, the government has not been able to trace these arms let alone retrieve them. And today, Rawlings is complaining and accusing the NPP of sending arms into the society with the aim of destabilizing the society and rigging elections. I think this is quite unfortunate, and it is totally uncalled for. I do not expect a former head of state who has presided over that kind of regime to be making such statements," he said.
Ohene-Ntow denied the ruling party was behind the recent violence in the northern part of the country that to the death of six and scores injured.
"When you talk about violence in the northern region, what are we talking about? If you talk about the chieftaincy problem, it has antecedent deep into history, and if you talk about tribal and land problems, these are things that happen all over the country all the time. If you want to talk about the current political violence that we are seeing in the north, it was triggered by NDC activists who fired into an NPP rally. They had earlier on gone to Gushiegu to burn down the local offices of the NPP there. I agree that the reprisals that took place were not called for, but I'm telling you the genesis of the violence that we are witnessing in the north today," Ohene-Ntow noted.
He said there was need for Ghanaians to be vigilant and desist from violence ahead of the general elections.
"First of all the best you can do is to appeal to people's conscience that it is in our collective interest to be free of violence. But beyond that the police and other security agencies have announced their plans to ensure that at every polling station, security is provided for citizens who go out to vote. But in the run up to the elections, I think it is more of a duty of political parties to keep our supporters in check, and keep them well educated of the law on public safety and the conduct of public campaigns," he said.