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07.11.2007 General News

Government Is Neutral In Anlo Dispute-Minister


Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister for the Interior yesterday reiterated Government's neutrality in Anlo Chieftaincy dispute, which has so far claimed five lives, pledging that Government would ensure that peace returnes to the area.

He repeated Government's position of non-interference in Chieftaincy affairs, but cautioned it would live up to its responsibility of ensuring law and order and apply the full rigours of the law to bear on any individual or group of persons whose actions would breach the peace of the Anlo State.

Mr Bartels in a statement in Parliament, called on all Ghanaians to be concerned without any politicisation, and get united to deal with the situation. He said it was the position of Government that the issue of who was the rightful owner or heir of the Anlo Paramount Stool should be settled through the constitutionally recognised structures of the Regional or National House of Chiefs or the courts and 'not on the streets of Anlo or Keta or in the media.' he noted.

In a sum up after contributions to his statement, Mr Bartels gave an assurance that the Ministries of Interior and Chieftaincy and Culture would team up to address the need for a lawyer for the Volta Regional House of Chiefs to ascertain legally, the disputed line of succession that had been the cause of the conflict.

He also accepted members' contribution on the need for Government to set up an independent commission of enquiry to look into the death of the four civilians and a policeman following the eruption of the conflict and other chieftaincy conflicts in other traditional areas.

Contributions from members criticised Volta Regional Police Commander and his Deputy for media publications in their name that alleged that the eruption of the mayhem was politically motivated. Members also said the security agencies should have taken the early warning signs of conflicts more seriously and moved in to avert the simmering violence.

Mr Jonathan Tackie-Komme (MP-Odododiodioo) said what the police should have done was to have taken caution, while Dr Benjamin Kunbour (MP -Lawra Nandom) said the present state of affairs was an obvious one which had been crying over the last three years.

He said the nation must re-orient its strategy to solve problems of such nature, and pointed out that the Chieftaincy Bill, which was soon to be laid before Parliament was caught up between modernity and the traditional status of the chieftaincy institution. 'We are not modern and traditional in our chieftaincy, ' Dr Kunbour said.

Mr Clement Kofi Humado (MP -Anlo) reported that the police personnel went beyond some areas not considered part of the areas of the conflict and wrongly restricting people to their bedrooms during the imposed curfew after the violence erupted. 'Curfew is not in the bedroom,' he said.

Mr Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader, complained about reported incidents of human rights violations in the conflict area, and said the curfew should have been imposed earlier to avoid the explosion of violence. He said as far as possible, the Police should be withdrawn, and the military maintained.

Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Doe Adjaho, who is also MP for Avenor Ave, who was part of a delegation of the Volta Regional Caucus that last week assessed the situation, said at one time they saw one of the factions being protected by the Police, but the Deputy Regional Commander Hamidu said he did not know where they were coming from.

'The situation is quite alarming. Some of the policemen were not under the operational command. Make sure you give protection to all sides,' Mr Adjaho said, adding that it was better the Deputy Commander was transferred in his own interest.

'The Police should try as much as possible to be neutral to win the confidence of the people,' Mr Adjaho said. Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Abraham Ossei Aidooh said it was necessary to forgo some liberties in the interest of peace, but cautioned that no institution should hide behind the conflict and curfew to abuse people's rights. The House unanimously extended its sympathy to the bereaved families.