26.10.2004 Regional News

Member of Council of State calls on chiefs to help preserve peace

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Kumasi, Oct 26, GNA- Mr A.K. Deku, a member of the Council of State, has called on chiefs to use their influence in society to help preserve peace in the run-up to the December polls.

This he said would deepen the country's democratic culture. Mr Deku said they should support various governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), which visit their traditional areas to educate the people on peace.

"When Nananom show their support for such programmes, the ordinary man is bound to take whatever he hears seriously", he said. Mr Deku was addressing the first ever meeting between the Council and the National House of Chiefs (NHC) in Kumasi on Tuesday. The meeting provided a forum for the two bodies to discuss and exchange ideas on ways of ensuring free, fair and peaceful elections. The acting Chairman of the Council pleaded with the chiefs to assist in identifying areas of political conflict and address problems prevailing there.

He noted that they were well placed to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve problems early, and said, "the Council will be pleased when Nananom support the peace process in this manner". Ghana, as he put it, has been a zone of peace in the West Africa sub-region with democratic culture gaining root and said, it was necessary to take appropriate steps to strengthen the democratic structures.

Mr Deku told the chiefs that the Council was equally anxious of creating a level political playing field for all the contesting political parties and their candidates and has therefore been closely watching the political landscape.

It was in line with this that it organised an open forum in Accra to discuss the topic of peaceful elections last June, he said.

Odeneho Gyapong Ababio, President of the House, in a welcoming address, said chieftaincy, which is the embodiment of the country's traditions, and cultural heritage, plays a unique role in national development.

He said as chiefs they were in constant touch with the people, pursuing responsibilities as unifying factor and leading them in all fields of endeavour to positively impact on their lives. Odeneho Gyapong Ababio announced that the House had started compiling customary laws and lines of succession applicable to the various stools and skins with a view to helping to minimise succession disputes and confusion.

He said the House had completed about 70 of the 193 traditional councils in the country.

He said the House held a meeting at Elmina recently and developed a blueprint, which enjoined chiefs to give fair treatment to all politicians who visited their areas to campaign for votes. The meeting discussed issues including the funding of political parties, proliferation of small arms, inflammatory statements by some politicians, media excesses and indiscretion.

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