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04.03.2009 Regional News

Clashes In Bawku

By Daily Guide
Clashes In Bawku

President John Atta Mills There are indications that President John Evans Atta Mills will visit Bawku soon to quiet down the raging war situation in the Upper East Regional capital, which his Interior Minister has painted as an 'Economic War'.

On Monday, the Presidential Spokesman, Mahama Ayariga was quick to tell radio stationsin Accra that Vice President John Mahama was expected to leave Accra for Bawku as soon as he got a security clearance that it was safe to enter Bawku, to assess the situation.

This could pave the way for the President to visit the volatile region where he and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had campaigned extensively and had massive votes from, during the last general elections.

Ayarigah himself is the defeated MP for Bawku in the 2008 elections.

There were reports of full-blown fighting in the Bawku municipality in the Upper East Region on Tuesday, with two houses razed down by arsonists.

James Dorkpetor, Bawku Municipal Information Officer, who confirmed the fighting on Tuesday, said the affected houses were located just behind the Bawku Police Station.

He could see thick smoke rising into the sky, with piercing reports of sporadic gunshots and cries from persons trapped in the affected houses.

Five people had been reported dead in the renewed clashes that broke on Sunday, but military and police presence were said to have calmed tempers.

The raging violent situation in the North, particularly in Tamale and Bawku, is said to be worrying to the Mills government which campaigned extensively for 8 years on the unresolved brutal murders of notable personalities such as the Dabgon King, Ya Na Yakubu and Issah Mobilla.

The Government is said to have plotted a comprehensive peace plan for the area, which it hopes will broker an everlasting peace between the rival factions, the Mamprusis and Kusasis.

Yesterday, an exasperated Minister of the Interior, Cletus Avoka, gave the sad situation a new twist when he claimed the factions were fighting because of economic reasons.

Speaking to the media, Avoka said: "This is turning into an economic war. The youth are idle and there are too many arms floating around,” he said of the 3-day violence in which five people are said to have died and a policeman shot in the leg.  Several homes have also been burnt down, while over 30 persons have been arrested and placed in custody.

According to Avoka, the high level of unemployment in the area and the large number of arms and weapons in the system, have caused the youth to easily resort to violence to settle disagreements.

Speaking to pressmen yesterday in the wake of the latest developments at Bawku, he said it was sad that in spite of all the appeals to the people to use dialogue and the law courts to resolve their problems, “they are still resorting to violence.”

The Interior Minister has renewed the curfew imposed on the Bawku Municipality, the Gushiegu township and their immediate environs, with effect as of Monday, March 2, 2009, an official statement said on Tuesday.

A statement from the Interior Ministry signed by Mr Avoka said the decision was based on the advice of the Upper East and Northern Regional Security Councils and by Executive Instrument.

The curfew hours remain unchanged for the Bawku Municipality and the Gushegu township from 12 midnight to 0400 hours each day. The statement appealed to the people in those areas to exercise maximum restraint and help bring lasting peace to their communities and the country as a whole.

It said government expected that the prevailing peace would be maintained to ensure rapid socio-economic development of the communities concerned and the region in general.