President John Mahama has said he is not a violent person and, thus, will not be the one to spark any violence in this year’s elections.
“By my nature, I’m not a person who encourages violence and I’ll never encourage violence. If any such thing will happen, it will not be because I have provoked it,” he told some leaders of labour unions who called on him at the Flagstaff House in Accra on Tuesday.
Mr Mahama was speaking in reference to Sunday’s clashes between supporters of the two main parties in front of the Nima residence of his arch political rival, Nana Akufo-Addo, which resulted in some warning shots being fired into the air.
“Only last Saturday, we almost had a clash, which was unfortunate. If any of those firearms had been fired and someone had dropped dead, it would have been a completely different story. I think we should be preventive enough in our actions to prevent such things,” he said, adding: “I think that the police at Nima should have been better briefed knowing that this group was passing through and then we should have taken appropriate safeguards to ensure that such a thing doesn’t happen.”
The clashes happened as supporters of the two parties converged on the vicinity of the NPP flag bearer’s Nima residence as they simultaneously held their Keep Fit activities.
Mr Akufo-Addo and the NPP claim the NDC supporters threw stones into his residence, a situation that sparked the firing of the warning shots by the three-time flag bearer’s security detail.
Speaking about the security situation in the country ahead of the elections, Mr Mahama said “we will avoid the flashpoints that create that kind of situation” and charged the country’s law enforcers to be proactive in preventing any violence or misconduct from party supporters in the build-up to the December 7 polls.
He also charged members of the public and various stakeholders to hold politicians in check. “When we (politicians) ratchet up the political rhetoric, you should feel free and confident to call us to order.
Meanwhile, the United States of America has condemned the attack on the residence of Nana Akufo-Addo.
“The US is deeply disappointed by the targeting of the home and family of the primary opposition presidential candidate,” Department of State Press Director Elizabeth Trudeau said at the Daily Press Briefing on Monday, November 14, 2016.
“We condemn all violence in Ghana including political violence in the period leading to, during, and immediately following Ghana’s elections scheduled for 7 December. Ghanaians from across the political spectrum have worked hard to build one of the leading democracies in Africa. We call on all Ghanaians to remain peaceful and respect the democratic process.
“We specifically call on candidates, their parties and their supporters to reaffirm their pledges to renounce violence and settle any disputes through the judicial process.” The US government said it will revoke or refuse visas of any politician that incites violence in connection with the polls.
Also, the British government has condemned the violence. “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 British High Commission said in a statement.
“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,” the statement continued, adding: “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 condemn any violence, incitement or intimidation which only serves to undermine democracy.”
The UK, like the US has also threatened to refuse or revoke the visas of anyone that engages in or incites political violence.
The UK noted that it would 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 while remaining entirely neutral.