Background of the study
Political violence is one of the most disturbing problems society is facing today. It is found in almost all parts of the world, be it industrialized capitalist societies, or socialist societies, as well as the developing countries of Asia and Africa. However, there is a growing concern that democratic governance is the most important tool for achieving development, particularly in a developing country where elections are not only integral and the single source of political participation, but also the only source of legitimate power in all democracies. Yet, the 21st century has in particular witnessed more political violence than hitherto known to humankind.Political violence has emerged as one of Africa’s most pressing security issues. Recent events in Kenya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Egypt, and Libya, among others, point to the salience of the phenomenon. Political violence in Africa has received attention from academics as well as the media.
Political violence is violence which is perpetrated in order to achieve political goals. It can include violence which is used by a state against other states (war) or it can describe violence which is used against non-state actors (most notably police brutality or genocide). It can also describe politically-motivated violence which is used by non-state actors against a state (rebellion, rioting, treason, or coup d’etat) or it can describe violence which is used against other non-state actors. Non-action on the part of a government can also be characterized as a form of political violence, such as refusing to alleviate famine or otherwise denying resources to politically identifiable groups within their territory. Due to the imbalances of power that exist between state and non-state actors, political violence often takes the form of asymmetric warfare where neither side is able to directly assault the other, instead relying on tactics such as terrorism and guerrilla warfare, and it can often include attacks on civilians or otherwise non-combatant targets that are perceived as proxies for the opposing faction. Many groups and individuals believe that their political systems will never respond to their demands, and they thus believe that violence is not only justified but also necessary in order to achieve their political objectives. Similarly, many governments around the world believe that they need to use violence in order to intimidate their populations into acquiescence. Political violence may manifest in a number of ways: civil wars, armed rebellions, violent political rallies, coercion of voters, violent political conflicts, electoral violence, riots, genocide, terrorism, assassinations, political radicalization, and post-election demonstrations or crackdowns.
The rate of political violence before, during and after presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana has attracted much attention from both local civil society organizations and international organizations. This is due to the fact that Ghana is a member of the United Nations (UN) and articles three and five of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights respectively state that “everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person; and no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” (United Nations, 2002: 2). It is also due to the fact that Ghana has been described as an icon of democratic success in Africa. Ghanaian politics, since the country was introduced to multi-party politics predating the colonial era, has witnessed electoral violence. Lives have been lost and others have been maimed through political violence.
Statement of the problem
Berekum Municipality has witnessed some incidents of political violence since the coming into being of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. In the afternoon of 5th March 2010, some irate youths of the NDC entered the residence of the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) with the intention of disrupting an NDC constituency executive meeting scheduled to be held there. The MCE got wind of their coming and left the residence. On the 30th of July 2008, a political argument which ensued among some members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Berekum caused the constituency’s first-vice chairman of the NPP (Nnuro Bediako) to hit Wilson Gyamfi (a member of the NPP) to death. On the 13th of October 2008, some supporters of the two major political parties in Ghana (NDC and NPP) clashed in the centre of Berekum, resulting in injuries to people and destruction of property. For example, a student at Berekum College of Education (BETCO) sustained severe injuries from a sharp instrument. In effect, the student has not been able to continue his education.
These and many other cases of political violence, in their manifest character and potential dynamics, have challenged the very stability and future of the municipality during presidential and parliamentary elections. Although some research on political violence has been done in Africa as a whole, academic research remains underdeveloped in Ghana in this area. So far, nobody has carried out a study on the causes and effects of political violence in Berekum Municipality, hence the reason for carrying out the study.
Objective of the study
The main focus of this study is to present a critical investigation of the causes and effects of political violence in Berekum Municipality, Ghana. Specifically, the study seeks:
1. To assess the factors that spark political violence in Berekum Municipality.
2. To examine adverse effects of political violence on the people of Berekum Municipality.
3. To recommend solutions to end political violence.
1. What possible immediate identifiable factors trigger political violence in Berekum Municipality?
2. What factors have remote influence on the people of Berekum Municipality to engage in political violence?
3. How have the people of Berekum Municipality been adversely affected 8 by the political violence?
4. What are the prospects of curbing political violence within the municipal?
Significance of the study
The findings of the study would help to identify the causes and effects of political violence in Berekum Municipality. Also, the study would inform government policy makers on matters relating to the Ministry of Interior about the necessary modifications in combating political violence. Again, the study would assist the Police Administration to review the police training strategies where necessary..The study will empirically add to the body of knowledge and serve as reference material for other academia in related field of study.
Scope of the study
The scope of the study borders on a critical investigation of the causes and effects of political violence. The study is however delimited to Berekum Municipality in Ghana.
Limitation of the study
During the course of this research, the following factors are proposed to be a limitation.
Financial constraints: Financial constraints tend to impede the researcher’s efficiency in locating relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as in data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research is reduced. However the researcher will give in their best to make this research a success.
Definition of terms
Political Violence: Political violence is the deliberate use of power and force to achieve political goals. Political violence may manifest in a number of ways: civil wars, armed rebellion, violent political rallies, coercion of voters, violent political conflicts, electoral violence, riots, genocide, terrorism, assassinations, political radicalisation and post-election demonstrations or crackdowns.