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30.11.2004 General News

People of Bawku march for peaceful elections

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Bawku, Nov. 30, GNA - A large number of people including school children, women and civil society organisations marched through the principal streets of Bawku on Tuesday calling for peaceful, free and fair elections.

The theme of the march was "Towards Violent-Free Elections 2004". They carried placards some of which read, "Help Redeem The Image of Bawku", "Let Us Forget The Bitter Past", "Our Children Need Peace To Learn" and "Build Bawku, Don't Destroy it".

Others are "War Drives Away Investors", "Women and Children, Are Crying For Peace" and "Invest In Children's Education Instead Of War". It was organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in collaboration with the Women Conflict Prevention and Peace Building (WINCOPA), the Ghana Education Service and the Bawku East Women Development Association (BEWDA).

Addressing the gathering after the march, the Bawku Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Abdul-Rahman Gumah, expressed appreciation to the organisers.

Mr. Gumah recounted the effects of the violence after the 2000 elections and described the march as timely saying never again should the people of Bawku allow themselves to be drawn into a bloody conflict. He said the Municipal Assembly had put in place measures with the security committee since the beginning of the year to ensure violence-free elections.

Mr. Gumah said these included dialogue with the political parties and parliamentary candidates and discussions with traditional rulers, adding that, the efforts of the Assembly were yielding positive results. A Deputy National Director of the NCCE, Mr. Robert Ekor Dassah, said politics was not a "do and die" affair, adding that, not all great men in the world were politicians.

He charged the people to tolerate one another to avoid violence and terror that usually occurred during and after elections.

The Municipal Director of Education, Madam Florence Buobi, said conflicts affected education most.

She said the teacher-pupil ratio in the area was every 300 children to one or two teachers with some schools being handled by a teacher, adding that, funds used in financing conflicts should be used in buying books and other educational material.

Miss Veronica Munya on behalf of WINCOPA urged the women of Bawku to prove that they could succeed in conflict prevention and peace building where men had failed and called on them to pledge to ensure that the elections would be free of violence.

An official of the Electoral Commission advised candidates to have credible agents on the polling day while the Police cautioned the electorate to keep away from polling booths and counting centres after voting.

The Municipal Police Commander, Superintendent D.S. Sampana, cautioned that the security services would not countenance any acts that would breech the peace.

Representatives of the New Patriotic Party, the National Democratic Congress and Independent Candidates present pledged to ensure a conflict-free and peaceful election.

Mr. Mahammed Ayariga of the NDC agreed that this was the only period in the history of Bawku that candidates were campaigning freely and cheering each other on the streets.

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