Chereponi conflict: Can independent arbiters bring peace?

The Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence and the Interior, Collins Owusu-Amankwah, has proposed the introduction of independent arbitrators in the Chereponi conflict.

He is of the view that considering that a mediation process led by Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, has failed to end the conflict between the Konkombas and Chokosis, his proposal is worth considering.

“For me, we should allow the feuding parties to select their own arbitrators…let them engage in an undertaking then it becomes binding on all of them. If not we are joking,” he said PM Express, Tuesday evening.

Colins Amankwah

Photo: Mr Amankwah is MP for Manhyia North Constituency, Ashanti Region.

The Defence Minister has been at the forefront of ending the long-drawn-out conflict that has destabilised communities in the North East Region town.

Mr Nitiwul recently led a delegation of 18 Konkomba opinion leaders – including chiefs – and 16 Chokosis of a similar composition to broker a ceasefire in the area, however, a mutual lack of trust in the process has rendered the security situation unstable.

Men wielding machetes and guns sometimes attack unsuspecting residents in rival communities shortly after the Minister has ended his peacebuilding negotiations and left the town.

Schools and health facilities have been affected by the conflict as teachers and health professionals flee the predominantly deprived communities in Chereponi for safety.

Meanwhile, in the latest update on the conflict, the factions have agreed to a temporary ceasefire.

Proffering what he believes to be a sustainable solution to the decades-old conflict in the area on PM Express, Mr Amankwah said he is convinced that the peace effort has gotten to the stage where leaders of the feuding factions must be allowed to bring in persons or groups they can trust in.

“From where I sit, I think we should allow the conflicting parties to choose those that they have reposed confidence in… that they trust; so that we engage two arbitrators; and [the factions] sign an undertaking. If we fail at that stage then we legislate,” he told the host of the nightly current affairs programme, Evans Mensah.

He said that should be the last process in the fluid conflict situation. The next critical step, should the engagement of independent arbiters fail, should the use of force to compel the factions to toe the state’s line to end the conflict.

A ranking member on the same committee, James Agalga, said on the same show that although the Defence Minister has gotten the factions to cease fire, that, in his view, is a short-term measure.

James Agalga

James Agalga

”In the long-term, I think we should be looking at finding the remote causes of the conflict.

”Government made some attempt sometime in January when the Minister for the Interior [Ambrose Dery] put together a five-member committee led by the former Inspector General of Police, Patrick Acheampong. That committee was supposed to end its work in a month. They have since submitted the report. Yet not even the feuding factions know what the recommendations of the report are,” he said.

He wants the report to be made public and government act on same to bring lasting peace to the area.

However, Mr Amankwah, who is a legislator for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) disagreed with the view that the recommendations are not known to the factions. He also said making the report public is not a guarantee that peace will be achieved.



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