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30.04.2004 Regional News

Chiefs must help build bridges of peace- IGP

By GNA

Sunyani (B/A) April 30, GNA- Nana Owusu-Nsiah, Inspector General of Police (IGP) on Thursday advised chiefs to stay clear of active party politics and help build "bridges of peace" between the various political parties.

"It is only when there is peace in the communities that law-abiding citizens can go about their normal duties without fear or intimidation", he said.

The IGP was addressing the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs on "the role of chiefs in supporting the police to achieve peaceful elections in 2004", at its second general meeting in Sunyani on Thursday.

He said in terms of law enforcement, chiefs through their traditional courts and the police have a great influence in the general maintenance of law and order, peace and stability.

He urged the chiefs to use their authority to assist the law enforcement agencies to make the forthcoming elections successful. Nana Owusu-Nsiah, who is also Mawerehene of Berekum, stated the constitutional provision on chiefs in Article 276 section one of the 1992 constitution, barring chiefs from actively taking part in partisan politics.

"A chief shall not take part in active party politics; and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to Parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin", he read, adding that any flout of this injunction was likely to dent the reputation and dignity of the chieftaincy institution.

The IGP called on chiefs to remain neutral and treat all political parties with equally.

Nana Owusu-Nsiah noted that many chieftaincy disputes and other conflicts were created by divisional and sub-chiefs and suggested that seminars be organised for them to know exactly how paramount chiefs and queenmothers were enstooled.

"This will help reduce the spate of chieftaincy disputes", he said, explaining that monies spent on litigation could be used for developments and advised the chiefs to settle chieftaincy disputes amicably outside courts.

He appealed to the chiefs to advise the youth to desist from acts of vandalism and respect the Public Order Act by comporting themselves. The IGP appealed to the chiefs to assist the security agencies by providing information leading to the prevention and arrest of criminals. In a welcoming address, Nana Kwadwo Nyarko III, President of the House and Omanhene of Prang Traditional Area, said the meeting aimed at deliberating on pertinent issues affecting the institution in the region.

He announced that his term of office as President would elapse in October this year, and his successor would be elected in the last quarter of the year.

The Pranghene suggested to the House to work out modalities by which its next President and all others could be elected without rancour in order to promote peace and unity.

He commended the security agencies for their untiring efforts in combating armed robbery and other criminal activities in the country. Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister advised chiefs to work to unite all feuding factions and political parties and cautioned them not to allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians. "Nananom are required to control their subjects, particularly the youth against their political opponents since such behaviours have the tendency of disrupting peaceful elections", the Regional Minister said. He appealed to all and sundry to be circumspect in their pronouncements during the electioneering campaign.

Nana Seinti advised the chiefs to promote the formation of virgin and abstinence clubs in their traditional areas "so that we could protect our children against HIV/AIDS".

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