Ho, Aug.31, GNA - Speakers at a public forum as part of the Volta Regional congress of the Ghana United Nations Association (GUNA) on Saturday called for a well-programmed and concerted nation-wide peace campaign and education on positive character development by both state and non-state institutions as part of the country's development agenda. Such campaigns, which should be given the same seriousness as the campaign against HIV/AIDS should focus on the rural populace and the youth, who are most vulnerable to being manipulated towards violence. The theme for the congress was, " Building, consolidation, promotion of peace and sustainable development in Ghana."
Mr Henry Yaw Akototse, a Tutor at the Saint Mary's Seminary/ Secondary School at Lolobi said peace movements must now de-emphasise their focus on urban areas and take their messages to the rural areas which have become fertile grounds for those whose agenda was to foment trouble to satisfy their personal interests.
He said such trouble makers always took advantage of the shortcomings of the rural folks, misinform and incite them to violence, hence the urgent need to counter such campaigns of misinformation which feed on ignorance, illiteracy and genuine problems of the people. Mr Samuel Senyo Koranteng an undergraduate of the University of Ghana, Legon said conscious efforts should be made at positive character development of the youth as part of the educational system and home upbringing.
He observed that a naturally intolerant person could with positive character development be made to restrain such inclinations and accept other persons' views as a necessary fact of life and for ensuring peace. The Reverend Father Joseph Tebsis of Jasikan and Patron of the regional branch of GUNA said injustice, discrimination and deliberate suppression of the truth needed to be overcome in order not to incite people to conflicts and wars to draw attention to their dissatisfaction and frustrations.
Mr Emmanuel Letsu, Assistant Volta Regional Co-ordinator of GUNA appealed to individuals to settle their differences amicably as almost all communal violence and wars have their root causes in differences between two people over issues.
Other speakers identified pervasive poverty, unemployment and generally harsh economic conditions as embers of violent behaviour and conflicts. It was their view that the resolution of such difficulties help create and sustain the necessary peaceful atmosphere for further development and prosperity in the country.
Dr Mike Ewua-Asamua, Executive Director, African Federation of UN Association and Civil Society and Peace Network who presided thanked peace activists and others whose work have sustained peace in the country.
He said Ghana has become the international focus as a haven of peace in a sub-region rocked by civil wars and violence and that it was therefore, the responsibility of all Ghanaians to assist in addressing the grey areas of conflict in the country.
Dr Ewua-Asamua said Ghana now bears a big burden of sustaining its internal peace and working for peace in the sub-region, made more so because of the responsibilities thrust on the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan and Dr Ibn Chambas, ECOWAS Executive-Secretary respectively to work for global and sub-regional peace and development.
He pledged the continuous support of GUNA to government's peace efforts in some parts of the country.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Ho District Chief Executive, Mr Mawutor Goh said the thrust of government's policies and programmes was to address serious social and economic inadequacies, which have the potential to undermine peace and development.
He said the success of such measures would however require the active co-operation of partners such as GUNA to ensure collective peace and development in the country.
Meanwhile the Congress has established a three-member conflict resolution committee to provide early warning on issues that threaten peace in any part of the region.
The Committee, which comprised Rev Father Tebsis, Mr Samuel K. Tettey, an Evangelist and Mr Julius K.A. Wugah a Businessman would be expected to draw attention of the regional Executives of the Association to likely conflict situations for the information of the national headquarters.