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Urgent Appeal for Peace in Bawku Chieftaincy Conflict by Joint Upper East Unions

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In a remarkable display of unity, several prominent associations hailing from the Upper East Region, including BONABOTO (The Association of the Citizens of Bolgatanga, Nangode, Bongo, and Tongo), the BISSA Development Association, BULUK BISA Club and the United Kassena Nankana East Association(representing Kandiga, Manyoro, Mirigu, Natugunia, Nabango, Sirigu, and Yua), have convened a joint press conference in Accra. The purpose of this assembly was to address the protracted chieftaincy conflict in Bawku, which has cast a shadow over the region for nearly three years.

Speaking on behalf of these associations, Professor Samuel Atintono, the National President of BONABOTO, stressed the pressing need for peace in Bawku and the wider Upper East Region. The unions earnestly called upon all stakeholders to collaborate on a resolution that would quell the devastating ethnic and chieftaincy disputes.
The conflict in Bawku, rekindled in 2021, has left behind a trail of heart-wrenching casualties. Countless reports of killings and maiming, predominantly targeting the youth, have emerged. While official figures cite a death toll exceeding 200 individuals, the associations contend that the true number is likely much higher, with many cases remaining unreported.

The associations challenged the underlying motivations for these killings, urging the youth to reconsider their involvement in the conflict and the interests they inadvertently serve. They underscored that the ongoing violence has exacted a heavy toll on the region’s economy, transforming the once bustling commercial hub of Bawku into a desolate town. Businesses have shattered, and residents have fled in fear, with many finding refuge in neighboring towns such as Bolgatanga, Navrongo, and Sandema.
The loss of access to vital services has raised alarms, with healthcare, education, and public services severely impacted. Hospitals and healthcare facilities have either closed or curtailed their operations, leading to dire consequences, including the reported loss of 27 pregnant women’s lives due to a lack of medical care” he stated. The associations emphasized the need for a swift restoration of peace to prevent further unnecessary fatalities.
Moreover, the unions said the consequences of the conflict extend beyond Bawku alone. Nearby towns like Bolgatanga and Navrongo are grappling with increased pressure and stress on public and private institutions. The unions affirmed their unwavering commitment to proactively collaborate with security agencies to contain the conflict and safeguard peace and stability throughout the broader Upper East Region.

The associations put forward a series of appeals to stakeholders involved in the Bawku conflict resolution. They appealed to the Mamprugu Overlord, Nayiri, and Mamprusi youth to cease actions that may exacerbate the conflict and to prioritize peace likewise the appealed to the Bawku Naba, Naba Azoka Abugrago II, and the Kusasi youth to exercise caution to prevent escalating tensions in the area and to adhere to security agencies’ directives strictly.

The joint unions encouraged the eminent Asantehene Committee, led by Otumfo Osei Tutu II, to expedite the conflict resolution process for a sustainable peace and called on the National Media Commission to take steps to close media outlets that inflame the conflict without bias and to ensure accurate reporting on conflicts to prevent further escalation.

Prof. Atintono on behalf of the unions, requested for the security agencies to vigilantly monitor social media and apprehend individuals inciting violence in communities, with a plea to the government to decisively deal with troublemakers from both sides and take legal action against those promoting conflict.

A call was also placed on the military and police to use their intelligence to prevent small arms and ammunition from entering the conflict zone and to conduct regular swoops and searches to identify and appropriately punish those in possession of sophisticated weapons.
The associations reiterated their commitment to being part of the solution for the Bawku Conflict and expressed their readiness to engage with the youth from both sides to forge a path towards peace. They applauded the efforts of the security agencies, REGSEC, and all those working tirelessly to restore peace in Bawku.
Professor Atintono emphasized that, “the call for peace in Bawku has gained momentum and aims to address the urgent need for a resolution that will not only bring peace to the region but also promote the economic and social well-being of its people.” The associations underlined that it is in the collective interest of all parties to silence the guns and work toward a lasting and peaceful solution for the benefit of the people.

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