WANEP-Ghana gives 6 key recommendations to curb recurring Bawku clashes

Concerns have been expressed by the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP-Ghana) on the ongoing disturbances in Bawku and its impact on local and national security.

WANEP-Ghana says, although authorities are making attempts to resolve the situation in Bawku, the new killings in the area necessitate even more intense interventions. 

It added that the continued fighting in Bawku may have additional ramifications on peace and security as extremists and terrorists may be able to enter Ghana through Bawku if there is persistent violence, miscommunication, distrust, and lack of cooperation between the security, the factions, and the people.

“Catalysing this could be the availability of small arms in the afflicted areas made possible by the sustained violence in the conflict which can exacerbate the violence and increase the risk of armed (also criminal) attacks, making it difficult to achieve stability and peace in Bawku and across the border with Burkina Faso.”

“This is plausible because under such a circumstance, and with the influx of displaced persons from Burkina Faso, in-country and cross-border ethnic mobilizations for violence can occur.”

This was contained in a WANEP-Ghana news situation tracking report to evaluate the possible risks of the disturbances being recorded in Bawku.

The Network claims that the skirmishes may lead to extreme cross-border violence between Burkina Faso and Ghana’s northern borders.

Not only that, but additional effects also include migration, strain on infrastructure and social services, agriculture, and other socioeconomic repercussions.

Bawku has recorded substantial instances of violence, and clashes between residents and the security deployed to the town in recent weeks.

The town has been unstable for decades now following chieftaincy disputes between the Mamprusis and Kusasis leading to the loss of lives and the destruction of properties.

The military was recently accused of killing ten residents which prompted 25 divisional chiefs in the area to petition the overlord of Bawku and the government.

To this end, WANEP-Ghana in its report made the following six recommendations:

1. First, WANEP-Ghana appeals to the people of Bawku, especially people involved in the sporadic gun violence and acts synonymous with criminality, and their accomplices, to re-think the negative impacts of their actions on the ordinary people of Bawku and on themselves and cease the violence. Similarly, we call on the leadership of the Bawku conflict to further assess the varied generational effect of this recurrent gun violence and discourage their members, particularly the youth from being deceived by anyone to engage in violence.

2. The Upper East Regional Security Council (UERSEC), the Bawku Municipal Security Council (MUSEC), and the National and Regional Peace Councils as well as the specific security deployments should intensify the collaboration among them and engage with all relevant traditional and religious representatives, ethnic leaders, youth, women groups and other critical stakeholders of the conflict in discussions to determine pathways towards de-escalating the tensions and sustaining stability in Bawku. Those pathways should include sustained alternative dispute and reconciliatory processes.

3.The REGSEC and MUSEC should increase the presence of security especially to unmanned border routes and communities to prevent any security infiltration, curtail gunfires, and protect lives and properties.

4. WANEP Ghana calls for a joint team comprising the National Peace Council (NPC), the National Chief Imam or his office and the National House of Chiefs to embark on some days’ working visit to the factions to persuade the factions to mitigate the violence and explore lawful avenues that are still available to them to addressing their grievances. In this approach, WANEP believes that the Nayiri, the Overlord of the Mamprugu Traditional Area, has an important role to play in resolving the impasse and the Chief Imam should prevail on him to sustain his peaceful influence on the conflict. WANEP Ghana and other notable civil society peacebuilding organisations are available to provide the much-needed technical and other forms of assistance in that regard.

5. WANEP-Ghana strongly advises that any support to Bawku especially by shadow, and third parties, should be towards influencing peaceful processes and bringing life back to Bawku but not for political gains that intermittently make Bawku a ghost town.

6. Lastly, WANEP-Ghana calls on the Kusasis to return to the Bawku Inter-Ethnic Peace Committee (BIEPC) because the BIEPC remains one concrete local cohesion-building structure for peace efforts in the area.