The parliamentary candidates of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Odododiodoo Constituency in the Greater Accra Region have pledged their commitment to ensure peace and unity in the constituency before, during and after the December 7 general election.
The NDC candidate, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, who is the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP), and the NPP candidate, Nii Lante Bannerman, who is contesting the seat for the second consecutive time, both condemned the recent clashes that took place between their supporters during a peace walk by the NDC.
They called on their supporters to exercise restraint before, during and after the elections.
The candidates made the pledges at Jamestown, the seat of the constituency, yesterday when the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCSALM) called on them in their various constituency offices.
The aim of the visit was to hold discussions with the two candidates on how to maintain peace and security in the constituency before, during and after the December 7 elections.
It was part of the peace-building project of the commission, dubbed: “Ballots Without Bullets”, which is being supported by the German Federal Foreign Office (GIZ) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Nii Bannerman dispelled notions that the NPP endorsed violence, saying: “As a political party, we believe strongly in the politics of ideas.”
“We believe the electorate should be given the free will, without any compulsion, to decide which party to vote for. We are not a violent party and will not endorse any form of violence. We are committed to allowing the law to take its own course and ensure that the instigators of the violence are brought to book,” he said.
For his part, Nii Vanderpuye described the constituency as “a family” and called on the people to exercise restraint as they went about their political activities.
He said the NDC was committed to total peace and would not engage in any activity that would jeopardise the peace and sanity of the country.
“We want peaceful elections and a peaceful environment, so that our people will come out in their numbers to vote on December 7 for their preferred candidate. We will not hesitate to hand over any member of our party who will be involved in any form of violence to the appropriate authorities,” he declared.
“We are asking the security agencies to deal professionally and impartially with anyone who will disrupt the peace of the nation. We plead for neutrality, a level playing field, fairness, firmness and professionalism from the security agencies, so that we can conduct the elections in peace and not in pieces,” he added.
The Executive Secretary of the NCSALM, Mr Jones Borteye Applerh, called on both candidates to entreat their supporters to abstain from the use of arms during their political activities.
He stressed the need for the political leadership to put its supporters in check, saying: “Political violence is solved by the political leadership because its body language and what it communicates to the people help calm nerves and the tension in the constituency.”
Many people were injured on Friday, October 23, this year when some supporters of the NPP and the NDC engaged in a bloody clash at Jamestown in Odododiodoo.
That was when the constituency branch of the NDC embarked on a health walk within the constituency.
A tricycle was set ablaze during the rioting, with about 10 people being rushed to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
The police said the health walk was led by Nii Vanderpuye, with key party functionaries and supporters in attendance.
They said the walk began at the Opera Square in Accra and was routed through the Rawlings Park, UTC, Arena, Jamestown and designed to end at the starting point at the Opera Square.
When the group got to the NPP constituency office, known as “Blue Gate” around the High Street, a misunderstanding ensued between a group of young men who were around and some supporters of the NDC who were participating in the health walk.
That resulted in the throwing of bottles and stones at each other, leading to serious injuries to about 10 people, who were rushed to hospital.
Since the incident, many people and peace-building institutions have condemned the two sides for breaching the peace in the country.