This follows reports by the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons that 2.3 million weapons are circulating in Ghana.
Ahead of the 2016 General Elections, political parties have called on state security agencies to apply the laws governing the abuse of arms fairly and justly irrespective of political affiliation.
This was contained in a communique issued by the participating political parties at the end of a two day workshop on armed violence in elections organized by the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons in Dodowa.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training center on behalf of the Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons has disclosed that 2.3 million weapons are circulating in Ghana.
Out of this number, only about a million are registered with the Ghana Police Service.
Board Chairman of the commission, Brigadier Gen Francis Agyemfra (RTD) has indicated that most of these weapons, if not retrieved could cause possible armed political violence in election, which would be an indictment on the country's democracy.
Four political parties, namely the New Patriotic Party, National Democratic Congress, People's National Convention and the Great Consolidated Popular Party, have therefore tasked the Security agencies to work harder to block illicit arms supply routes in order to curtail the flow of illicit weapons into the country.
Below is the full communiqué issued:
We, the participating political parties, consisting of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the People’s National Convention (PNC), and The Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), having met at a workshop on armed violence in elections organized by the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) at the Forest Hotel, Dodowa from 11-13 November, 2015 agreed that for a peaceful 2016 elections, all politicalparties must commit to and promote the following:
1. Avoidance of the use of aggressive body language and inflammatory statement against each other.
2. Education and sensitization of the rank and file to desist from using small arms and encourage dialogue in resolving any political dispute.
3. Avoidance of the use of vigilante groups in communities and desist from the use of the services of Militant Pressure Groups, be they within or without the party, especially in the build up to the 2016 general elections.
4. Effective collaboration between the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) to ensure peaceful 2016 elections and to further enhance our democracy.
5. Revisit the issue of State support to political parties through the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC).
In addition, the political parties made the following recommendations:
6. Recognizing the lack of coordination of information for effective management and control of small arms in the country which is often exploited by some stakeholders in the sector, the workshop appeals to government to empower the Small Arms Commission to effectively monitor arms import, renewal of arms import licenses, and accountability of arms acquisition and distribution.
7. The State Security Agencies should apply the laws governing the abuse of arms fairly and justly irrespective of political affiliation.
8. Continuous effort should be made by government in close collaboration with the National House of Chiefs to resolve all chieftaincy and land disputes most of which are the remote causes of armed violence in the country.
9. The Security agencies should work harder to block illicit arms supply routes in order to curtail the flow of illicit weapons into the country.
10. Government should strengthen border management security institutions by providing them the needed equipment such as scanners and metal detectors that will facilitate their effort to detect smuggled weapons into Ghana.
11. To curb armed violence and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the 2016 elections, the Government must take practical steps to increase sustainable jobs for the youth and do all in its power to reduce the high rate of youth unemployment, a potential threat to peace and security.
The political parties appeal to all Ghanaians to help prevent the use of small arms during the period of campaigning as well as before, during and after the 2016 elections.
The political parties were represented by;
NDC: Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo Lartey (rtd), Hon. Kofi Attor, Sidii Abubakar Musah
NPP: Nuhu Bayorbo Mahama, Domic Kwesi Eduah, Mercy Amo Darkoah
PNC: Abdul-Rashid Seidu, Issahaque Awudulai, Desmond T. Ntow
GCPP: Eunice Osei Yeboah, Quarshie F. Lartey, Eunice Mordey.
Mr. Jones Borteye Applerh,
National Commission on Small Arms.