Veep John Mahama FEUDING PARTIES in the protracted conflict in Bawku have pledged their commitment to lasting peace in the area.
The Bawku Naba, Naba Asigiri Abugrago Azorka II and their Mamprusi counterparts have both agreed to the need to end all forms of conflict and forge a common bond to ensure the total development of the area, considered as one of the poorest in the country despite its potential.
In separate encounters with the Vice President, John Mahama, in Bawku to find a lasting solutions to the protracted feud, the Bawku Naba in a statement read for him said some of the reasons being whispered around as the remote cause of the conflict include chieftaincy, land disputes, politics and the celebration of the annual festival.
He however said his legitimacy as the Paramount Chief is not in doubt since it was settled in 1958. He said a subsequent suit at the Supreme Court in 2003, which it dismissed, further asserted his position as the legitimate Bawku Naba.
On land disputes, the Bawku Naba indicated that as the overlord of the area he was entitled to be informed of any land disputes between individual members of the community and that nobody had made any such complaints to him.
It was therefore not acceptable to believe that there had been land disputes necessitating a conflict.
The chief alleged that he had always extended hands of friendship to the Manprusis to join him in celebrating his festival which he described as a development one but the Manprusis were alleged to have declined all invitations.
He attributed the conflict in the area to politics, accusing former government officials and some security personnel of being the cause of the major conflicts in the area.
The Bawku Naba criticised the justice system, accusing former government officials of setting free suspects who had been implicated in the conflict.
He called on government to come out with the National Peace Council's (NPC) white paper report on the true owners of the land.
The Bawku Naba also urged the government to come out with the white paper report as to who were the rightful owners of the land of Bawku.
The other faction commended the government for promptly responding to the conflict in the area.
They thanked them for sending such high powered delegation led by the Vice President and that if such a delegation had been sent long ago by the previous government, the conflict would have ended.
The Manprusis indicated that they were prepared for peace and that the presence of Mr. Mahama at Bawku was an indication that there was hope at the end of the tunnel.
They acknowledged that with four ministers from the area in President Mills' government, the people of Bawku should rather be happy but unfortunately the reverse has been the case.
The Manprusis pledged to ensure that peace reigned in the area, especially because of the bad image their actions was giving to the area.
Addressing them, Mr Mahama said it was ironic that while government had put in place the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority to ensure total development of the region to bring it at par with others, it now had to divert resources to keep the peace.
He said keeping 450 military and 550 police personnel at Bawku in the name of peacekeeping was a drain on national coffers.
According to Mr. Mahama, all northerners are the same because “we're all united in our poverty.”
He reminded the people of the need for the rule of law to prevail, stressing that “the law must prevail. It does not matter whether you are NDC, NPP, CPP, Kusasi or Mamprusi. If you commit murder you would be arrested.”
The Vice President warned that the culture of impunity was a thing of the past and that a new dawn had taken off.
He said for the region to develop, the people of Bawku ought to be united with common aspirations.
Mr Mahama and the entourage visited some areas that had been devastated by the war. Some of the houses were completely burned
The Regional Minister, Mark Woyongo, appealed to them to exercise restraint since children and women are the worst affected.
From Wisdom Peter Awuku & Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bawku