Anytime I hear about Curfews, it reminds me of what we witnessed during the Dagbon Chieftaincy dispute. It is not something that you will wish for anybody, particularly so when the weather is hot.
If you have not experienced curfews before, you will never appreciate the trauma and pain associated with it. For many years, the people of Bawku have been enduring curfew as a security sector temporary measure to deescalate tensions in the area. But the question has always been, until when?
Curfews can be an effective conflict de-escalation approach in some cases, especially where the conflict is driven by the activities of violent groups or organized crime. However, curfews are not always the best approach to resolving intractable conflicts. Curfews can lead to significant economic and social disruptions, especially in cases where the conflict is long-standing or deeply entrenched within a community. Bawku, the once enviable cosmopolitan – commercial capital of West Africa has become a pale shadow of itself unfortunately.
Instead of the reliance on curfews, there are several conflict de-escalation and resolution approaches that security agencies can adopt to resolve the Bawku conflict, they include:
- Dialogue and negotiation: Security agencies can engage in dialogue and negotiation with conflict parties to identify the root causes of the conflict and work towards a peaceful resolution.
- Mediation: Mediation involves bringing in a neutral third party like it happened with the Dagbon Chieftaincy dispute where the Committee of three eminent chiefs led by the Asantehene facilitated dialogue between the conflicting parties. Mediators can help parties identify common ground and develop solutions for resolving the conflict.
- Community policing: Community policing involves building trust between the police and the community they serve. In this case, the kind of community policing model is the kind that Ghana Police FPU undertakes in Sudan and Somalia. This approach can help to prevent conflicts from escalating and promote cooperation between security agencies and community members.
- Reconciliation: Reconciliation involves bringing together the conflicting parties to address historic grievances and work towards mutual understanding and forgiveness.
- Capacity building: Capacity building involves equipping community members with the skills and knowledge to manage conflicts peacefully and prevent them from escalating.
In summary, curfews can be effective in some cases, but it is essential to consider other conflict resolution approaches that promote dialogue, building trust, and reconciliation between conflicting parties.Can the model used to resolve the Dagbon Chieftaincy conflict between the Abudus and Andanis be adopted to resolve the Bawku chieftaincy conflict even though the dynamics are different?
Whilst the conflict in Bawku endures, many have suggested that the conflict resolution mechanisms and models that were deployed by the Committee of three eminent chiefs led by the Asantehene should be adopted to resolve the Bawku chieftaincy dispute. Even though the dynamics are different considering the multi tribal as dynamics as compared to Dagbon’s mono tribal or single tribe conflict.
Even though there are many dynamics that come into play in resolving any conflict, it is essential to understand the particular circumstances and root cause of the conflict and the cultural, social, and political dynamics at play. It is possible that some aspects of the model used to resolve the Dagbon chieftaincy conflict could be adopted to resolve the Bawku chieftaincy conflict. Still, it is essential to tailor the approach to suit the specific dynamics of the Bawku conflict. The adoption of conflict resolution models must also be done with caution and proper consultation with the stakeholders involved in the conflict.
The Dagbon Chieftaincy conflict between the Abudus and Andanis was resolved by the Committee of Three Eminent Chiefs led by the Asantehene through a process of mediation and negotiation. The committee was set up in 2002 to help resolve the protracted conflict between the two factions, which had claimed numerous lives and caused significant damage to property.
The committee, comprised of the Asantehene, the Nayiri of Mamprugu and the Yagbonwura of Gonja, met with both factions and listened to their grievances. They then worked to find common ground between the two sides and to develop a roadmap for the resolution of the conflict.
The committee recommended the following steps to resolve the conflict:
- The selection and installation of a new Ya-Na (the paramount chief of Dagbon).
- The setting up of a peace council to oversee the installation of the new Ya-Na and to promote peace within the Dagbon traditional area.
- The creation of a roadmap for the resolution of outstanding issues related to the conflict, including compensation for victims, the reconstruction of damaged property, and the prosecution of those responsible for the violence.
The recommendations of the committee were accepted by both factions, and the installation of a new Ya-Na took place in 2019, marking the end of the protracted conflict. The work of the peace council also continues to promote peace and reconciliation within the Dagbon traditional area.
The actors in the Bawku conflict are the Kusasi and Mamprusi ethnic groups, who are fighting over chieftaincy and land disputes. Shadow actors may include political elites, who may be manipulating the conflict for their own interests, and criminal gangs who profit from the violence. Parties internal to the conflict may include local and traditional authorities, community leaders, and civil society groups. External actors may include regional and international organizations, such as the African Union or the United Nations.
A conflict analysis tool that can be used to analyze the Bawku chieftaincy conflict is the Structural Violence approach. This approach examines the ways in which social, economic, and political structures create conditions that perpetuate conflict.
Some suggested solutions to the Bawku conflict include:
– Establishing a neutral body to oversee chieftaincy disputes
– Implementing community-based approaches to conflict resolution and peacebuilding
– Investing in development projects that promote economic growth and reduce poverty
– Addressing corruption and promoting good governance
– Enforcing the rule of law and holding perpetrators of violence accountable
– Providing psychological support to victims of violence and trauma
Short-term challenges of the Bawku conflict include the immediate threat to lives and property, while medium-term challenges include rebuilding infrastructure and providing humanitarian assistance to affected communities. Long-term challenges may include addressing the underlying causes of the conflict, such as economic disparities and historical grievances.
Stakeholders such as government, peace council, national house of Chiefs, judiciary, parliament, local and traditional authorities and security agencies can play a crucial role in ending the Bawku conflict by:
– Providing leadership and political will to resolve the conflict
– Supporting community-based approaches to conflict resolution and peacebuilding
– Engaging in dialogue with conflicting parties and bringing them to the negotiation table
– Providing security to affected communities and ensuring that the rule of law is upheld
– Promoting development projects that address the root causes of the conflict
– Providing humanitarian assistance to affected communities.
In conclusion, the Bawku chieftaincy conflict has been ongoing for years, with no signs of resolution in sight. However, it is crucial to approach the situation with a focus on dialogue, de-escalation, peace-building, mediation, and win-win approaches for both the manprusis and Kusasis.
It is essential for the government to step in and initiate mediation efforts, offering support and guidance to both sides. Local community leaders should also be included in the dialogue, along with representatives from civil society groups, religious organizations, and traditional authorities.
To achieve lasting peace, all parties must be willing to openly and honestly discuss their grievances and work towards finding a solution that benefits everyone. This could include the establishment of a neutral third party to manage the chieftaincy affairs, the creation of joint development projects that benefit both communities, and the promotion of cultural exchange programs.
Ultimately, resolving the Bawku chieftaincy conflict will require patience, cooperation, and a commitment to a peaceful and prosperous future for all involved. By embracing dialogue and de-escalation, we can move towards long-term solutions and build a more cohesive and harmonious society.
BY: Mohammed Abdul Hanan EL-Saeed. K414 Ward K. Tamale
The writer is a student of Conflict, Peace And Security. He has no special interest in the conflict. His interest is to see Bawku take back its former glory and place as the biggest Cosmopolis commercial center in West Africa.