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18.02.2006 General News

National Houses of Chiefs urged to intervene in ROPAB impasse

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Accra, Feb. 18, GNA - The Apintohene of Wassa Traditional Area in the Wassa West District of the Western Region, Nana Kwabena Angu II on Saturday appealed to the National House of Chiefs to intervene in the political impasse over the passage of the Representation of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB).

"The voices of our chiefs and queens must be heard to ensure national peace and stability," he said, stressing, "it is imperative for the House to take a hard look at the nation's past, present and the future with the view to building on the positive strides in terms of socio-political development".

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on the political tug-of-war over the passage of the bill by the majority, minority and other political stakeholders, Nana Angu said the manner and style in which some people are practising democracy in the country is beginning to pose a problem for national unity.

He urged the House to call the two protagonists to the negotiating table for dialoguing. "The two parties must be persuaded to move from their entrenched positions as the party political interest must succumb to national interest".

Nana Angu, who is also the chief of Awoduah urged the National House of Chiefs to use their office to ensure that no negative event occurs to disturb the current peaceful and stable environment. Ghanaian chiefs should be mindful of their role in society and strive to maintain the peace, unity and stability needed for national development.

"It is an undeniable fact, however, that the type of division that the ROPAB debate had generated had created the nursing ground for unnecessary bloodshed on our soil.

"As a peace loving-people, we must act swiftly to diffuse any action that would interrupt with national peace and ask all aggrieved persons and institutions to resolve their difficulties through peaceful channels."

The Apintohene said in tune with this democratic culture and practice, it is necessary at this time to resort to more consultation, dialogue and constructive means of problem resolution with a view to invoking our collective ingenuity and God's guidance. He explained that as traditional rulers their primary concern is about peace, stability and tranquillity in the country and "as landowners our principal task is to ensure that citizens, regardless of ethnicity or nationality, go about their daily activities without any threat of life and limb."

Nana Angu also urged the House to extend its role to cover senior government members and Chief Executives when necessary, saying that some of the setbacks to effective governance could be traced to lack of adequate information.

He expressed concern about the apparent lack of bite by traditional authority on national issues and challenged traditional rulers to speak and defend national interests without any party political colour. The Apintohene also urged political leaders to adhere to laid down procedures for negotiations instead of adopting confrontational approach.

Nana Angu said, it has often been the tendency of most political leaders to concentrate their energies fighting for their right through confrontational means.

He said although, it was not wrong fighting for the rights to which one is entitled, the mode and method used and the approach adopted is crucial, "as it must not be allowed to disrupt national cohesion and integrity".

Parliament on Thursday, February 16, voted to push the Bill beyond the consideration stage, with one more legislative lap for it to be passed.

The Minority, who vehemently opposed the bill from its unset were absent due to their indefinite boycott of Parliament. The bill had generated anxiety and debate even in homes and public places in the country ever since government introduced it Parliament last year.

The Bill seeks to amend the Representation of the People Law, 1992 (PNDC 284) to enable Ghanaians resident abroad who, by virtue of restrictions imposed on them by the law are unable to register and vote in public elections and referenda in Ghana to do so. The Minority had, among others cited administrative hurdles and practical problems such as logistics and geographical distance as some of their reasons for opposing it.

A group called Diaspora Vote Committee (DVC), a pressure group, had threatened to seek the view of the Supreme Court on the matter if the vote of the bill fell through. 18 Feb. 06