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Regional News Wed, 20 Feb 2008

Opinion Leaders in Bawku Begin Working to Bring Peace

Bolgatanga, Feb. 20, GNA - Opinion Leaders of the various ethnic groups from the Bawku Municipality on Wednesday said they would appeal to their people to immediately stop all shooting and other acts of violence in the area.

"In this regard, opinion leaders in communities where there are shootings or acts of violence should be held responsible for those acts. It, therefore, behoves such opinion leaders to inform, educate and debrief them on the consensus arrived at this meetings," they said in a communiqu=E9.

The communiqu=E9 was issued after a day's meeting in Bolgatanga with the Upper East Regional Security Committee and representatives of Religious Bodies and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) that are involved in peace building. The meeting discussed the conflict situation in Bawku, which they said was threatening the peace and security in the area, thus restricting the free movement of persons in and around Bawku and also threatening economic activities. They said they would prevail upon their people to stop making contributions of money meant to be used to buy arms and ammunition and to let them know that all wrong doers irrespective of their ethnic background or social status would be arrested and dealt with according to the law.

The Opinion Leaders said they would discourage the youth from congregating at various points in Bawku town to discuss violent acts that were fuelling the conflict and inform their people to verify all information from the appropriate authorities before acting upon them. The Opinion Leaders said the conflict should not be linked with politics and called on all concerned to strongly depoliticize it saying: "Any radio commentaries by highly placed citizens of the area should centre on peace and mutual co-existence.

The communiqu=E9 said Mamprusis and Kusasis should see the other ethnic groups as part of them and not to suspect them of taking sides. The other ethnic groups should, on the other hand, not act in any suspicious manner that would seem they were taking sides. The Bawku lorry station should be reactivated and Security Personnel should also closely patrol other essential facilities like the hospital, banks and markets.

The seizure of motorbikes and bicycles from people and foodstuffs from women traders should also stop. They called on the REGSEC and the Bawku Municipal Security Committee to ensure that security was beefed-up along the road from the Bawku Senior High School to Sabongeri area. Other major routes within the Municipality should also be closely patrolled by the Security. Mr Alhassan Samari, Upper East Regional Minister, earlier stated that no decisions were taken on the issues of land and Chieftaincy and that they were not the subjects for discussion at the meeting. He explained that the focus of the meeting was on how to bring the hostilities and violence to an immediate end and to bring normalcy back to Bawku.

Mr Samari said this in reaction to a statement attributed to Mr Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, on Metro Television that all the feuding parties in Bawku, who participated in the reconciliatory talks had agreed on chieftaincy matters in the area. He urged all opinion leaders in Bawku to abide by the terms of the agreement reached during the meeting. The communiqu=E9 was signed by all the Spokespersons of the various ethnic groups in Bawku that participated in the meeting.

Source: GNA