The government says it has taken over the disputed land which has been the source of the protracted conflict between the people of Nkonya and Alavanyo in the Volta region, for military use.
The government believes that the occupation of the disputed land by the army for training purposes would help to ensure peace by deterring the parties from engaging in clashes and also enable people to farm.
It comes as part of various interventions being deployed to achieve lasting peace in the area.
It also comes in the wake of increasing calls for the decades-old land conflict which started in 1923, to be resolved through the use of Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms.
Security analysts say the conflict has grown beyond the disputed land into multiple dimensions including political, chieftaincy and farming interests, which require a multi-faceted approach using dialogue.
Aware of the multi-dimensional nature of the conflict, Dr Archibald Letsa, Volta Regional Minister, indicates that the government’s takeover of the land “is just one of the strategies” towards bringing lasting peace to the area.
According to him, the government is tackling the protracted conflict between Nkonya and Alavanyo “from many angles including constant engagement with the two factions.”
He explained that the seized land which has been the bone of contention between the two communities will now serve as a military training zone for jungle warfare, and with the military’s presence, he hoped the two communities would have peace.
Several peace accords were breached, and the violent conflict has killed dozens of people, and left many injured, while a large number of properties have been destroyed.
Former Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, two years ago, gave a hint of government’s planned seizure of the disputed land, in an apparent move to deter the two sides from further engaging in clashes.
But there were renewed clashes in April and May this year which left six people dead.
The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, on Thursday in Parliament, announced government’s takeover of the land, following a discussion on the need for peace in the area.
But the announcement triggered mixed reactions from members of the two communities, with some opinion leaders in the two communities faulting the government for not engaging the communities over its intention.
Some of them believed the seizure of the land was not the solution to the conflict.
Last Monday, a joint delegation of the leadership of youth groups from the two communities, interacted with the Volta Regional Security Council where they pledged their commitment to peace.
The Regional Coordinating Council also announced plans to hold counselling sessions for victims of the conflict to help them shed any retaliatory agenda they may be harbouring.
In a joint statement in Parliament, by Dr Mrs Bernice Adiku Heloo and Kwadwo Nyanpon Aboagye, Members of Parliament for Hohoe and Biakoye respectively under which the two feuding communities fall, called for an end to the hostilities.
According to the two lawmakers, formal education, health care, investment and infrastructural development in the area have suffered considerably leading to “a sharp rise in migration, increased number of orphans, illiteracy and unemployment.”
“The cost of maintaining peace in the area by keeping both the military and police’s presence is rather high. These resources could be channelled into development projects in the area.
Responding to the calls of the two MPs, Mr Nitiwul said the government would continue to pursue processes started by the previous administration by establishing the military training base and police barracks on the part of the vast disputed land to find a lasting solution to the matter.
“We will continue to pursue peace processes started by the previous government,” he said, adding that the beginning of a sustainable peace must start with the people.
He also urged stakeholders to continuously engage the two factions so that the communities would own the peace process.
By: Samuel Mingle/adrdaily.com