Resolve Bawku conflicts to save lives

On Wednesday, the Ministry of the Interior imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the Bawku Municipality and its environs in the Upper East Region following renewed chieftaincy disputes in the area.

The curfew takes effect from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. until it is lifted.

Besides the curfew are two bans, one on carrying of arms, ammunition or any offensive weapons and the other on wearing of smock in the affected communities.

It is on record that the disputes in the Bawku area between the Kusasis and Mamprusis are not new and relate to chieftaincy and land ownership.

Much as the Ghanaian Times would not like to wade into the chieftaincy and land matters, it is concerned about the unresolved bad blood between the two ethnic groups that triggers incidents which lead to conflicts with attendant horrible effects.

For instance, in May 2008, a Kusasi man was shot dead on his way home from the mosque and this resulted in clashes between the groups in which five lives were lost.

Generally, it is not in dispute that in spite of the reason(s) for engaging in them, armed conflicts stop people from going about their socio-economic activities due to the fear that they may be caught up in clashes which could be fatal.

No wonder some parents are making the moves to stop their children from going to school in the Bawku area due to the current simmering situation there.

 Public and private assets are also destroyed and people flee their communities when the situation becomes volatile.

For instance, media reports had it that in a similar conflict in 2007 hundreds fled Bawku to neighbouring towns in Ghana, including Bolgatanga, Zebilla, Nalerigu and as far as Tamale, Kumasi, Accra and other major communities in Ghana, whereas some youth took refuge in neighbouring countries like Togo, Burkina Faso and Mali.

When people are displaced this way they find life difficult in the new environment as they would have to depend on the benevolence of others.

Even if they are fortunate to return home, they may have to start life all over again because they may have lost their livelihoods and property.

Apart from these, the curfew restricts movement and prevent people from undertaking some activities to earn incomes.

Relatedly, the conflict situation calls for more security personnel presence, which has cost implications for the government.

The Bawku conflicts usually result in curfews and bans. For instance, in 2007, motorbikes were banned and in the current one smock, the popular dress of the people, because it is claimed that people can hide arms and ammunitions in it to cause trouble.

The Ghanaian Times is worried this beautiful and revered apparel should be downgraded to give cause to the government to ban it.

What should personalities like the BawkuNaba and Elders wear, given the tradition that these people should wear the smock, at least, on important occasions?

The Ghanaian Times does not agree with any suggestion that circumstances surrounding the conflicts are complex and making it difficult to resolve them.

All conflicts have their histories; what is important is how we narrate them to the young generations.

The truth must be told but the biases and the emotions must be avoided so we can have the middle point where the parties can make permanent sacrifices to resolve the disputes and bring about unity and tranquility that can always support peaceful co-existence.

The negative effects of the Bawkuconflicts should be good grounds or basis to resolve the conflicts to save lives and property to give the area the peace for its development.

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