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15.07.2004 General News

Committee to detect early conflict signals in the offing

By GNA

Kumasi, July 15, GNA - The Ministry of the Interior is to establish a committee, to develop a policy framework, which will help in identifying early warning signals related to conflicts in the country. Mr Thomas Broni, Deputy Minister of the Interior, who announced this said the decision for such a framework stemmed from the realisation that it was more prudent and less costly, to prevent conflicts than striving to resolve them.

He was addressing the opening session of a one-day awareness creation workshop on conflict prevention, for traditional rulers in the Ashanti Region in Kumasi, on Thursday.

Thirty-nine chiefs in the region and observers from South Africa and Liberia attended the workshop, which was organised and sponsored by Anti-Conflict Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). It was designed to further equip chiefs, regarded as custodians of the land and influential leaders, with skills and techniques for preventing the occurrence of disputes and conflicts.

Mr Broni said to ensure effectiveness of the policy framework; chiefs would be part of the committee because of their rich experience on arbitration, conflicts prevention and resolution. The Deputy Minister deplored the numerous chieftaincy disputes that had engulfed the chieftaincy institution, which he attributed mainly to the reluctance of some kingmakers to strictly adhere to the succession arrangements and procedures.

Mr Broni stressed: "Though the succession arrangement and procedure is not written, they are known to kingmakers, but unfortunately some of them deliberately try to subvert the rules, resulting in disputes in respect of enstoolments and enskinments".

He said, while the government was initiating positive measures at preventing and reducing conflicts, kingmakers should also resolve to play their role in a genuine and transparent manner, to bring about a conflict-free society.

Daasebre Osei Bonsu 11, Acting President of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs, observed that the inability of Judicial Committees of the various Houses of Chiefs to dispose of the huge number of cases expeditiously, stemmed from the absence of adequate counsel.

Daasebre Osei Bonsu, who is also the Mamponghene, stressed: "There are at present, only three counsel to all the 10 Regional Houses of Chiefs and the National Houses of Chiefs, and this makes it virtually impossible for them to speedily dispose of cases pending".

He appealed to the government, to take the matter seriously by putting in place suitable conditions, which would attract lawyers to take up appointment with the Houses of Chiefs as counsel.

Miss Joana Mensah, Executive Director of Anti-Conflict Foundation, noted that although various structures established to handle chieftaincy and other conflicts had the will to discharge their responsibilities effectively, inadequate funding had often eroded their efforts.

She mentioned the chieftaincy secretariat as one of such institutions and said because it was not well resourced financially and logistically, it was unable to dispense of cases with urgency and precision. 15 July 04

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