Accra, April 13, GNA - Parliament, by a unanimous decision of 141, on Tuesday approved a resolution for the extension of the state of emergency in the Tamale municipality and Yendi district by a period of one month, from April 23, 2004.
The Minister of Interior, Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, who moved the motion for the adoption of the resolution, also announced that the curfew period in the area, which used to be from 2000 hours to 0500 hours, has been altered from 2200 hours to 0400 hours. This, he said, would allow the residents of the area to have sufficient time to undertake their social and economic activities, in spite of the crisis in the area.
The current state of emergency period in the area would end on April 22, 2004.
Mr. Owusu-Agyeman expressed disappointment over the March 20, 2004 incident, during which some youth of the Abudu Gate invaded the existing Ya-Na Palace by preventing the palace from being demolished saying, that incident was a major setback to achieving lasting peace in the area. Apparently the Abudu Gate youth alleged that they had some information from an undisclosed source that the palace was about to be demolished and replaced with the temporary one under construction.
Mr. Owusu-Agyeman said, "this is the state of frustration in which I find myself as I stand before this august House", adding, "at a time when we should be supporting the peace efforts, the gains that are being made are being eroded away through misinformation and misrepresentation of decisions that are arrived at."
"I am overwhelmed by the fact that the people in the area themselves do not see the need to be part of the peace process, but rather keep doing things that would create more tension in the area." He said government would not shirk its responsibility of ensuring lasting peace in the area, adding however that, "this peace cannot be imposed on the people, it must emanate from the hearts of the people themselves."
Mr. Owusu-Agyeman said the security situation in Yendi district was currently under control, and appealed to Members of Parliament and opinion leaders, to use their influence to help ease the tensions in the area.
He assured the House that the Committee of Eminent Chiefs, chaired by the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, was working hard to resolve the March 20, 2004 issue, and also to complete the temporary palace for the burial of the Ya-Na.
Alhaji Abubakari Sumani, NDC-Choggu/Tishigu, who is a member of the Andani Gate and Alhaji Malik Al-Hassan Yakubu, NPP - Yendi, a member of the Abudu Gate, expressed their disappointment over the March 20, 2004 incident and some other shooting incidents in the area during the voters' registration exercise, saying that government needed to do more about the crime issues in the area.
Mr. Cletus Avoka, NDC-Bawku West said the government needed to be more firm and strict to deal with the crime issues in the area, saying that the shooting incidents and the takeover of the existing palace by the youth from the Abudu Gate, were not issues for the Eminent Chiefs but for the government to deal with.
"A crisis which begun in 2002 and has lingered till now is not just frustrating but overwhelming, especially when there doesn't seem to be any proper road map or antidote to the problem on hand," he said. The Minority Leader Alban Bagbin was of the view that the government must allow civil society to lead the peace process, as one of the party's involved had been branded favourites of the ruling government.
"We as members of Parliament must visit the area as a team of minority and majority and organise a forum and address the people as a team so that they could learn from our unity as members of Parliament," he said. "We must also move from community to community in the area and preach the peace message instead of repeating the extension of the state of emergency, which has not proved helpful enough."
Mr. Kosi Kedem, NDC- Hohoe South suggested that in the same manner Parliament had set up a committees to look into alleged malfeasance at the Volta River Authority (VRA), Parliament should set up its own committee to intervene in the Dagbon crisis and make recommendation that would help the government to achieve lasting peace in the area.