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Text of Mahama’s speech at Ayawaso West Wuogon anniversary

Friday, January 31, 2020.

Good morning and thank you, my brothers and sisters, for joining us here at La Bawaleshie.

Normally, a gathering within the month of January of the New Year would have been expected to be festive.
Unfortunately, our gathering today, which has brought together not only members and friends of the NDC but Ghanaians of all walks of life, is anything but celebratory. It is a memorial of pain, anguish, and of betrayal of trust.

A year ago today, just close to this very ground we are standing on today, innocent Ghanaians waiting to cast their ballots were violently attacked and some injured, ironically, in the course of an exercise that was expected to consolidate our growth and maturity as a democracy.

On that fateful day, a day that has tragically and disgracefully gone down in our history as a “Black Thursday,” our nation, like something out of a horror movie, witnessed an assault on citizens- a severe assault, the likes of which has never occurred before except during the era of brutal military regimes.

We had all thought that those terrifying days when men in uniform acting with impunity, visited unimaginable atrocity against innocent citizens was over until party thugs dressed in security outfits and their collaborators in police uniform brought back that nightmarish experience during the 31st of January 2019 by-election of Ayawaso West-Wuogon.  

My dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, while we are all witnesses to that sordid history, we must remember that it is those who have been physically maimed and others who have been mentally scarred from the experience, with their families and loved ones, who bear and re-live the memory and the pain each day.

The cowardly act of barbarism perpetrated by government elements against citizens whose only interest was to choose a Member of Parliament for themselves could have been worse.

Thankfully, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as it had always done throughout our democratic journey since 1992, on that day, once again showed leadership and put the peace and security of the country first by withdrawing from that election.

Indeed, later events would prove that the dastardly act was an orchestrated plan that was intended to be replicated at other voting centres to intimidate and suppress our support base, and we have been exonerated.

One year after that disgraceful chapter in our nation’s life, there are questions that remain unanswered.

Why must any responsible government compromise the security of the nation by infiltrating its security set-up with militia members forming the core of a specialised SWAT unit that the IGP, under whose command they should fall, confessed he knew nothing about?

If the current constitution of our National Security remains the same, in a case where we need protection, do we seek refuge in the police who were unaware of rogue elements using their vehicle, and who stood passively by as those elements rained terror on innocent civilians?

Why is President Akufo-Addo who should be defending the law make mockery of it, thereby setting a dangerous precedent by accepting that assault is permitted if one believes one was provoked?

Why did President Akufo-Addo pretend he cared about vigilantism and wanted to tackle it and yet refused to abide by key recommendations of the Emile Short Committee, which among others included the prosecution of identified offenders and the disbanding of the illegal, parallel SWAT unit?

My brothers and sisters, anyone who professes to love Ghana, the only country we have, should be concerned about the President’s actions which has almost certainly emboldened criminal elements within his government and party to attempt more attacks against political opponents, especially with elections just about 10 months away.

Let me make this very clear: we have reached a critical point and Ghana’s future as a peaceful, united country is at stake. On 7th December, 2020, as they have promised us a repeat of the bloody gun violence, this time on a national scale, there will be innocent school children around and that is why we cannot keep quiet.

There will be pregnant women and the aged present and that is why we must not remain silent. There will be Christians, Muslims, traditionalists and people of all faith right there and that is why we must stop them now.

There will be media personnel and others when they start their promised attacks and that is why we must resist the rule of oppressors. No Ghanaian can sit on the fence claiming neutrality; every single individual across our nation must stand up and choose the side of Ghana.

We call on the National Peace Council not to allow themselves to be railroaded into serving as a cosmetic veneer to make the government look as though it is tackling the matter of vigilantism.

Ghanaians are looking up to them for impartial, decisive direction and they cannot disappoint them. They must be quick to publicly condemn the war drums that government functionaries are sounding, with the apparent approval of the government, ahead of the 2020 elections.

The Peace Council has a sacred duty to advocate that the criminal elements that have infiltrated the National Security set-up are removed so that confidence can be restored in our security and Ghanaians can go to the polls to elect the next President in an atmosphere that promotes free, fair and transparent elections.

In conclusion, I wish to state clearly that the assault suffered by citizens, at the hands of their own government, a government that was constitutionally bound to protect them, will not just pass in vain.

We will do everything in our power to ensure that they receive justice, even if not immediately, very soon.

Thank you, and May God Bless us all.

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