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Regional News of Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Source: GNA

Kusasis and Mamprusis in Bawku Start Talking Peace

Bolgatanga, Feb. 19, GNA - Representatives of the Kusasis and Mamprusis of Bawku Municipality on Tuesday agreed to reconcile their people and convince them to foster peace that would bring normalcy back to Bawku.

They said they would use five days to educate the youth and the older persons, who had been fomenting trouble on the need to stop the violence, respect and accept each other and take up the good relationship they had before December 31st 2007 when the conflict started.

This agreement was reached after a day's stakeholders meeting on the Bawku crisis held in Bolgatanga by the various ethnic groups, religious bodies and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in Bawku. They also agreed that apart from interpersonal and group dialogue with their people, they would use the local FM radio to educate the people and use public address systems to make urgent appeals to them to lay down their arms and stop fighting. This they were sure would bring back normalcy to the Municipality and allow health personnel to resume work, school children to have regular classes and the general public to go about their normal business.

The Representatives said the onset of peace would also put a stop to the armed robbery; seizing of motorbikes; physical assault; burning of houses and shops and the random shootings that had put fear in everybody.

"Nobody is free in Bawku, during the day one cannot move beyond certain invisible barriers and by 1700 hours, when animals are still roaming around humans have to be indoors. The Muslims can only have two congregational prayers in a day instead of five, all this cannot be allowed to continue," they said.

They said Bawku had to regain normalcy as soon as possible before any practical measures could be taken to ensure lasting peace. "Another measure we have to take is to let everyone know that any grievance they might have with the other ethnic group should be sent to the elders for amicable settlement, we don't want a situation whereby they would try to settle it by themselves and end up fighting," they said.

They urged security personnel to ignore accusations by some people that they were taking sides and to arrest anybody who flouted the law. Recalling a communiqu=E9 that was issued in June 2001 at Damango after a similar stakeholders meeting to find ways to lasting solutions to the previous conflict, they said that they could adopt it and continue from where they stopped at that time. Some of the points in the communiqu=E9 included, that Bawku Naba, Abugrago Asigri Azoka, Chief of Bawku, should be recognized as such and given the due respect by all in Bawku; that they would all use dialogue as the means for settling their problems and would encourage inter-marriage as a means of ensuring good relations with each other. The communiqu=E9 also asked that the people stopped stock-pilling arms and ammunition; patronized each other's social functions and separate political and ethnic interests.

Earlier, in an opening speech, the Upper East Regional Minister, who organized the meeting said: "Since the seeds of conflict are often sown in the minds of men, it can only be from the minds of men that the seeds of conflict cold be removed. We have to bear in mind that nobody or group of persons from outside can bring the conflict to an end if we the people of Bawku do not resolve to do so ourselves." He said the security personnel were investigating cases of isolated attacks on individuals and would be arresting the perpetrators soon. "I, therefore, appeal to both the Kusasis and Mamprusis to put an immediate stop to this and not take the law into their own hands. I also call on the other ethnic groups in the Bawku area to help in any way they can to bring this conflict to a peaceful end."

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