Bimbila conflict: WANEP urges ‘strict vigilance’ by police despite stability

Peace and security advocate, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), wants security agencies to heighten surveillance in conflict-struck Bimbila, despite the recent calm in the area.

The peacebuilding organisation said in a release issued in Accra on Wednesday that peace in the Northern Region town is crucial to forestall further division, mistrust, fear, social and economic impoverishment of the area.

“WANEP-Ghana appreciates the enforcement of order by the police and imposed curfew, which will restore calm and stability in Bimbilla. However, it is important that the police maintain strict vigilance,” said organisation.

Renewed conflict in Bimbilla last week Thursday between the Nakpaa and Andani royal gates has left about 11 people, mostly women and children, dead as well as countless injuries and the destruction of properties.

Many residents of the impoverished town have also fled to nearby communities.

Although a combined force of military and police personnel have quelled the gun violence that hit the town last week with the imposition of a curfew, the situation remains fluid.

 “There are reports of people breaking the curfew and over 20 people have been arrested since the violence started,” says WANEP.

WANEP laments the recent clashes, calling it a major setback because, since November 2016, it has partnered with key organisations – such as the Creating Awareness and Relief Everywhere Int. Ghana (CARE-Ghana), Action Aid Ghana, Social Enterprise Ghana (SEND-Ghana), USAIDS and the Northern Region Peace Council – to end the decades-old chieftaincy conflict in the town.

“Unfortunately, this recent violence constitutes a drawback to the ongoing dialogue process and smooth implementation,” WANEP said.

In view of the current situation WANEP-Ghana has urged the following:

– Government to continue to enforce law and order to create space for ongoing efforts in preventive diplomacy;

– Disputing factions to exercise restraint and their leaders should call on their followers to remain calm and not engage in any further violence so as to not derail the existing curfew;

– Politicians and political leaders to be mindful of their direct or indirect participation in the conflict, as both factions tend to draw some leverage from politicians to escalate the conflict. In this light WANEP applauds the Interior Minister, President and other government officials who have firmly indicated their stance not to interfere in chieftaincy affairs;

– The media to be circumspect and conflict-sensitive in their reportage and refrain from being channels of violent communication by disputing parties capable of reinforcing tensions and insecurity;

– Disputing factions to remain committed to the ongoing dialogue process initiated by WANEP-Ghana and its consortium in partnership with the Northern Peace Council;

WANEP further adds that it will continue to collaborate with relevant institutions in peacebuilding to enable the environment for peaceful coexistence and sustainable development in Bimbilla.