From January to the end of October this year, the West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP)’s Early Warning system has recorded captured 80 armed robbery cases in Ghana.
During the period under review, there were 69 murders, 93 road accidents, 24 abductions including kidnappings, 20 flood cases, 12 violent demonstrations and 18 illegal mining cases that turned violent.
Mr. Vincent Azumah, who is the West Africa Regional Coordinator for Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at WANEP made this known on Tuesday at the launch of the “Strengthening Early Warning and Conflicts Response During Ghana Elections” Project and Project Inception Meeting with the national leadership of political parties and stakeholders in Accra.
“This level of violence in the country which is being contained at the moment can degenerate too far more volatile levels if we allow our elections to become another source of violence instead of an avenue to trade ideas on national issues and to select the best leaders for Ghana,” Mr. Azumah said.
The Strengthening Early Warning and Conflicts Response During Ghana Elections Project is particularly designed to strengthen the WANEP National Early Warning Systems (NEWS) and also aimed at enhancing the capacity of civil society and relevant state institutions to promote human security, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding.
It is being funded by the Government of Canada under the Canada Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI).
Mr. Azumah said the West Africa Region had been bedevilled with a number of peace and security challenges.
He said key among these challenges were organized crime and violent extremism, gender peace and security, environmental security, democracy and governance; adding that “Ghana is not and has not been immune to these challenges”.
Mr. Azumah also said in the Northern parts of Ghana, there had been a growing influx of refugees fleeing extremist attacks in Burkina Faso.
According to him, from January to June 2019, over 2000 Burkinabé refugees, mostly women, and children had been registered and settled in communities in the Upper West Region.
The Regional Coordinator said Ghana had also seen a number of farmer herder violent conflicts leading to deaths in some cases.
“It’s therefore our joy at WANEP when partners such as the Canadian High Commission team up with us and other peace-loving institutions to work towards ensuring peace during Ghana’s election 2020,” he said.
“What is more refreshing to note is that our Canadian partners believe in the fact that we cannot wait until a few weeks to the election to commence working for peaceful elections. Peacebuilding is not an event, it is a process. That is why we at WANEP have designed our Early Warning and Response system that supports Ghana and the West Africa region through the ECOWAS early warning system, ECOWARN, and Africa through the AU’s African Reporter.”
Mr. Azumah used the opportunity of the launch of the project to appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties in the country to refrain from making utterances that might unnecessarily heighten tensions in the country ahead of the 2020 elections, declaring that “It is not healthy”.
“This appeal also goes to the media and especially those media houses who take delight in creating unnecessary tension with headlines such as “Nana jabs Mahama”, “Mahama fires back”. As partners for peace, let’s all work together in our small ways to maintain the peace Ghana has enjoyed so far. Let the 2020 elections further consolidate Ghana’s enviable credentials and not break the country apart,” he emphasized.
The National Network Coordinator of WANEP Mr. Albert Yelyang said the project launch was a very key assignment towards proactiveness in preventing violence in an election that would probably be yet one of the most competitive in the fourth republic.
He said the project aims at making sure that they were conscious of identifying the threats, conducting analysis, providing warning through reporting on the election-related dynamics, and responding to the warnings before they degenerate further.
“We intend to use this process to create and support a peaceful environment for electioneering that will encourage participation by all,” he said.
Professor Vladimir Antwi-Danso, a Security Analyst and Dean of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces Command Staff College urged Ghanaians to ensure that the country once again emerges victorious, as a shining example to the international community in the 2020 general election.
Mr. Pasquale Salvaggio who is the Political Counsellor at the High Commission of Canada said the success of any election would be attributed to the active participation of the citizenry of the nation.