CRG Seminar: Political vigilante groups and democracy in Ghana: tensions and opportunities

This seminar is organised by the CRG Politics, governance and law in Africa: Exploring connections.

This seminar is given by Visiting Fellow Dr Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu Kyei. In spite of the official disbandment and criminalization of political vigilante groups in the Republic of Ghana through the Vigilantism and Offenses Act 2019, he argues that these groups are not necessarily antithetical to democratic governance. The research questions the extent to which political vigilante groups contribute to democratic governance. Data for the research are drawn from individual in-depth interviews and focus group interviews with political vigilante groups in Kumasi and Tamale. The research discovered that political vigilante groups are non-monolithic in their organizational structures, membership and activities. In line with the literature on political vigilantism, some of the studied groups execute violence particularly immediately before, during and after political elections. Yet the research also found that political vigilante groups engage in civil actions and exert activities aimed at mitigating violence and conflict. The study concludes that political vigilante groups are political actors with interests in the political field and so it may be recommendable that they are registered and recognized as operating within registered political parties. As such, political vigilante groups should be provided with training on citizenship laws, electoral laws and good governance so as to effectively promote peaceful, political engagement at the local government level.

Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu Kyei holds a PhD in Sociology from the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Work in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi-Ghana. He is an adjunct fellow in the Centre for Cultural and African Studies, KNUST.



Date, time and location

05 March 2020
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 1A15