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Vigilante groups have political, social networks – Sowatey 

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Vigilante groups in the country do not operate in a vacuum, security analyst Emmanuel Sowatey has said.

According to him, such groups have political and social networks which protect them from the law enforcement agencies, Mr Sowatey told Chief Jerry Forson on Accra 100.5 FM’s Breakfast Show ‘Wonsom’, on Monday January 4, 2016.

Such political and social networks, he said, go to the rescue of vigilantes when they find themselves in the grips of the law. He said even political and traditional authorities, from time to time, rely on such groups for various purposes.

Government in December last year vowed to deal with all vigilante groups that will want to foment trouble in the 2016 general elections.

Deputy Minister for the Interior, James Agalga, said groups whose activities constitute threats to the peace of the country will not be given the freedom to operate during the 2016 polls.

Mr. Agalga said this on the floor of parliament as part of his submission on the ongoing debate on the 2016 budget.

Class FM’s parliamentary correspondent, Ekow Annan, reported the Deputy Minister as saying the government is focused on sustaining the peace of the country before, during, and after the 2016 elections.

Mr. Agalga said Ghana’s security is paramount and dear to the government and, therefore, all the groups which have gained notoriety for policing polls during elections will be dealt with.

The Builsa North MP told the House that government will not create an enabling environment for notorious vigilante groups to thrive.

Government’s resolve to deal with vigilante groups came days after a security analyst with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) warned that the use of macho men in political parties as private security portends danger for Ghana’s polls this year.

Dr Kwesi Aning, head of research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, described as worrying, the use of “political macho men” in Ghana’s electioneering.

“We must all be worried about the posture of the two political parties ,” – governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the biggest opposition party, New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Aning warned when he spoke in an interview on the sidelines of a public lecture delivered by Mr. Simon Coveney, Minister of Defence for Ireland.

Ghana’s politics is awash with vigilante groups and private security personnel.

Their sole purpose is to safeguard the electoral fortunes of their parties during elections. Some of these groups include ‘Bolga Bulldogs’, ‘Azorka Boys’, ‘Kandahar Boys’, ‘Invincible Forces’, among others.

The Bulldogs, engaged the Invincible Forces in a violent standoff at the NPP’s headquarters over issues concerning the indefinite suspension of national chairman Paul Afoko late last year.

The Invincible Forces, also, engaged a group of thugs – some in military fatigues – at the same NPP headquarters in Asylum Down, during a raid by the latter, also late last year. The police had to deploy officers there to maintain peace.

Dr Aning said pre-election incidents of that nature are harbingers of the danger ahead, as far as next year’s November polls are concerned.

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