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06.03.2009 Regional News

Leave Children out of Bawku conflict – Veep warns

By GNA
Leave Children out of Bawku conflict – Veep warns


Vice President John Mahama on Thursday condemned the use of children as combatants in the renewed Bawku conflict, and asked the security agencies to help to smoke out those behind the scheme.

Expressing anguish over the events that have led to the deaths of nine people, Vice President Mahama asked the Security authorities to deal firmly with all those linked to the conflict without fear or favour.

He said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government was committed to lasting peace in Bawku and to ensure justice for the victims, and as such all those found culpable would be punished.

The Vice President, who is on a peace mediation mission to conflict-torn Bawku, was speaking at a meeting with Military and Police Commanders who have been brought to restore peace in the Municipality.

Vice President Mahama's visit is at the instance of President John Evans Atta Mills, and aims at kick-starting peace-building measures among the feuding factions to prevent further loss of lives.

The Vice President was unequivocal about Government's determination to bring about peace in the area, and cautioned political parties alleged to be using the conflict to settle scores to desist from that.

"Let the law take its course" emphasised Vice President Mahama, assuring the service commanders of Government's support and neutrality so as to ensure that peace-building measures in Bawku are successful.

In addition to arresting perpetrators of the conflict the Vice President also charged the security personnel to work assiduously at ensuring that Bawku becomes an arms-free zone.

Earlier, Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Awuah Mantey, Commanding Officer in charge of the Tamale Airborne Force, who briefed the Vice President on the operations, called for stiff punishment for perpetrators of crimes.

He said situations where murder suspects are arrested and released soon afterwards was having a demoralizing effect on the security personnel. He suggested to Government to adopt additional measures including the intensification of peace-building measures in the area.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP), Alhaji Hamidu Mahama , Upper East Regional Police Commander, pleaded for increased logistics support for the more than 500 military and police personnel working to contain the situation in Bawku.
Mr Cletus Avoka, Minister of The Interior, asked the feuding factions to resort to dialogue rather than confrontation in resolving their problems.

The Paramount Chief of the Bawku Traditional Area, Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, queried the security services for allowing perpetrators of crimes to walk the streets of Bawku freely after they had been caught engaging in criminal acts.

He conceded that the Bawku situation was becoming complicated each day due to the diverse nature of the issues involved, and appealed to the Government to come out clear on the Bawku chieftaincy issue, and if possible publish a white paper to that effect.

Vice President John Mahama visited and consoled some of the conflict victims, including those whose homes had been burnt.

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