29.01.2008 Regional News

Bawku Fighters Trade Blames

By Daily Guide
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ABOUT 25 DAYS have gone since the latest Bawku ethnic misunderstanding broke out and the two main players in the conflict, Kusasis and Mamprusis have already started playing the usual blame game.

The leadership of the Mamprusis and Kusasis at separate press conferences, blamed each other for the start of the recent conflict which is believed to have claimed over 20 lives, and caused destruction to property worth several million cedis.

The Bawku Literacy Society held a press conference in Bolgatanga where the youth called on the leadership of the two main ethnic groups in the area to concentrate on ways to address the age-long hatred and bitterness that members of both factions harbour against each other.

The youth also mentioned that though the root causes of the recent conflict and previous ones were about land and chieftaincy issues, there was “no doubt that party politics has also contributed to the intensity of the conflicts”. They cautioned politicians to be guided by the insecurity in the area, and be mindful of their utterances especially since this year is an election one.

They said they would monitor all political activities and utterances in the area, and are prepared to take on any politician or party whose message is found to be inflaming hatred and confusion.

A press statement read by a founding member and a former Editor of the Bilingual Free Press, Alhassan Abdul-Kadri on behalf of the Bawku Literacy Society, called on the Kusasis and the Mamprusis, to realize that they have no other place to call their home apart from the area they are currently destroying.

“The lives you have destroyed are that of your own people, since Kusasis and Mamprusis together with other ethnic groups form the Bawku Traditional Area,” he said.

The statement said the conflict was the revival of an old quarrel, and that the Government, Civil Society Organisations and Opinion Leaders in the area who were involved in the restoration of peace and sanity after the 2001 showdown, should take the blame for not putting measures in place to prevent its recurrence.

The Bawku conflict started in the year 2000, where similar destruction of property and lives occurred. The misunderstandings and casualties since then have occurred around election year, and the Samanpiid festival, as witnessed recently.

Bawku Literacy Society was formed after the outbreak of conflict in the year 2000 and 2001 to preach peace, unity and forgiveness through local dramas, which resulted in the return of some level of peace to the area.

Experts described the security presence at the Samanpiid festival as enough, but the leadership of the Bawku Literacy Society, said inadequate security was the reason why some selfish and evil minded persons had the opportunity to start the whole incident.

The former Municipal Chief Executive of Bawku, Abdul-Rahaman Gommah, who witnessed the event, said it was unfortunate that all the stakeholders went to sleep after the 2001 conflict, thinking unity and normalcy had fully returned to Bawku and its environs only for the latest incident to pop up early this year.

“If indeed our people want to end the perennial chieftaincy conflict and the struggle for ethnic supremacy, they can do it since the solution lies with them and is all about compromise and forgiveness,” Mr. Gommah observed.

He advised that efforts at returning peace to the area after the recent conflict should be sustained until almost every mature individual in the area has been trained through whatever means to detect early conflict signs and prevent them from materializing.

Meanwhile, the Bawku Municipal Assembly for the first time in its history, approved a government nominee for the post of MCE with one round of secret balloting.

Honourable Abanga Abdulai, 38, polled 44 out of 47 valid votes cast by Assembly members. Before the assumption of his current position, Mr. Abdulai was a Chartered Accountant working with the Millennium Development Authority.

The Bawku West District Assembly also approved the President's nominee, Desmond Bugbila, 34, a staff of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) for the post of DCE. He polled 38 out of 43 valid votes cast.

The Upper East Regional Minister, Alhassan Samari who witnessed both events, charged the new Chief Executives not to lord it over their people if they want to succeed in their political career.

He cautioned the Bawku DCE to be careful in his association with groups in the area, and be guided by what has happened in the area prior to assuming his new position.From Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bolgatanga

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