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29.10.2003 Regional News

Minister condemns chieftaincy disputes in Brong Ahafo

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Sunyani Oct. 29, GNA- Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, on Tuesday noted with regret that the chieftaincy institution, which is supposed to foster unity among people and traditional areas, has been afflicted by disputes.

''The noble and revered institution is not able to perform its traditional functions because of disputes that are stalking the nation's development,'' he said.

Nana Seinti was addressing the first general meeting of the Regional House of Chiefs for the year in Sunyani to deliberate on issues affecting the progress of the institution.

The Regional Minister said the region has 45 disputes pending before the house "an indication that the number of cases keeps on increasing instead of subsidizing."

The situation has made the work of Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives in dispute areas difficult as some of them have been erroneously accused of taking sides in the disputes.

Nana Seinti said if nothing is done about the situation it would not only halt development but would also have the great potential of generating into conflicts that could ignite other security problems.

Nana Seinti expressed regret that the region had not yet been able to secure the appointment of a permanent counsel to assist the House in disposing some of the long-standing disputes.

He, however, gave the assurance that the Regional Coordinating Council is in contact with the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General's Department to get counsel to help in speeding up the resolution of cases pending before the House. The Regional Minister urged the House to intensify the work of the mediation committees adopted by the Judiciary to resolve some cases at the district courts in line with the alternate conflict resolution mechanism.

He advised parties in disputes to co-operate with the committee to settle disputes amicably.

On the National Health Insurance Scheme, Nana Seinti appealed to the chiefs to mobilize citizens of their traditional areas to patronize the scheme to replace the current cash and carry system. He said the NHIS is the government's option to make health care delivery accessible and equitable to all categories of people to make payment of hospital bills easy and to avoid the detention of patients in hospitals for unpaid bills.

Nana Seinti appealed to the chiefs to be proactive towards improving education in their areas by interacting with teachers and visiting schools to know their problems and help find solutions to them.

''Chiefs and district assemblies should team up to set up education funds to assist brilliant but needy students. He asked them to encourage parents to enrol and maintain all their children of school-going age in school, especially the girls.

Nana Seinti gave the assurance that the government would continue to provide educational facilities and upgrade at least one Senior Secondary School in each district into a model school.

He said about 60 billion cedis had been allocated for the commencement of work at four Senior Secondary Schools at Hwidiem, Asuogyaman, Bechem and Drobo, which had been selected for upgrading into model schools and community health training schools.

Mr Ernest Akubuor Debrah, Northern Regional Minister, in a farewell address appealed to the chiefs to try all possible means to avoid chieftaincy disputes and to ensure that peace prevails in their areas.

"There is nothing more worthy than peace. The government had so far spent about 20 billion cedis on police and military personnel keeping the peace in the Northern Region.''

The former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister stated that conflicts in the Northern Region had retarded progress "since people, especially nurses and teachers who left the area during the conflict have refused to return to render their services to the people."

He, therefore, called for co-operation between the new Regional Minister and Chiefs in fighting against chieftaincy disputes in the region.

Nana Kwadwo Nyarko III, Pranghene and President of the House, commended Mr Debrah for his good work during his tenure of office in the region and expressed gratitude to Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF), a German NGO, for funding the region's chieftaincy project. He expressed the hope that the project, if properly accomplished, would assist in reducing the spate of chieftaincy disputes in the region. 29 Oct 03

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