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General News of Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Source: GNA

Amend Constitution to enable gov't swiftly intervene in chieftaincy conflicts

Ho, March 30, GNA - Mr Walter Blege, President of the E.P. University College, on Tuesday called for an amendment of the 1992 Constitution to enable government to swiftly intervene in chieftaincy conflicts. Delivering an address at a day's workshop on "Chieftaincy Disputes/Conflicts - A major setback to national development," in Ho, he said even though the Constitution expects chiefs to manage their own affairs, it was not clear as to whether chieftaincy conflict resolution was part of the responsibility of chiefs or the government," Mr Blege asked. It was organized by Roses Investments Ghana Limited, Chieftaincy Consultants.

Mr Blege urged chiefs to be mindful of their respect and influence, which remained high and said it was important for them to exercise circumspection in their pronouncements.

He observed that in addition to owing allegiance to Ghana, every Ghanaian also owes allegiance to one chief of other.

"A word from the mouth of a chief therefore has the power of moving many Ghanaians either for the good of the nation or for her detriment. But the interest of Ghana remains supreme," he said.

Mr Blege said even though there were other forms of conflicts in the country, chieftaincy conflicts were many adding that "the effects of chieftaincy conflicts on our development are adverse and huge. "We can see burnt buildings and dead bodies in conflict zones. What we cannot immediately see are the long term effects manifesting themselves as ignorance, disease, hunger and intolerance, to mention but a few," Mr Blege said.

He said chieftaincy disputes arise from the non-observance of one or more of the seven basic requirements of making a chief in Ghana. These are nomination from among the royals, approval by various (stakeholders) kingmakers, "caught" or identified publicly, induction and installation.

The rest are the swearing of oath of allegiance declaring his commitments and obligations to the people and oath of loyalty to his or her superior and in recent times, recognition by the body of Chiefs at the Regional and National Houses of Chiefs.

He said a current project by the National House of Chiefs, which seeks to document the lineage, selection and installation procedures of ruling Houses and Gates in Ghana, should be vigorously pursued. Mr Blege also suggested that the 1992 Constitution should be amended to allow chiefs some measure of participation in development at the District Assembly level.

He said though the present constitutional arrangement has significantly isolated chiefs from national politics for good reasons, in his view, the isolation "is excessive and could be dangerous for our future political wellbeing." 29 March 10