The Defence Minister and his entourage, made up of opinion leaders of Chokosi and Konkomba ethnic groups drawn from the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions, are in Chereponi on a peace mission.
Dominic Nitiwul is hoping that his mediation team will broker peace between the Konkombas and Anufors who have been maiming and killing each other over the ownership of a two-acre land in the North East Region.
If “the senior opinion leaders can agree to even get together [then] it is a sign to me that we can give hope to people on the ground” to lay down their arms, an expectant Dominic Nitiwul stated.
Even before the meeting would begin, there are reports of renewed attacks- the second within a week. Two people are reported dead and several homes destroyed as a result.
Joy News has learnt of health workers fleeing the area after many communities were burnt in the four-day clash.
One of the workers told Joy News, he could not stay in the town because of the sporadic gunshots.
But the Minister of Defence is hopeful Friday’s meeting will bring about the needed atmosphere for a lasting solution to the conflict.
“They have no leaders anywhere to speak to them apart from us,” the Defence Minister told Head of JoyNews Security Desk, Gifty Andoh-Appiah who is embedded with the entourage.
The Minister, however, expressed disquiet over the renewed conflict. He wondered why the two tribes, who have coexisted peacefully for more than three centuries, would now resort to violence to settle their differences.
The clashes intensified just days after President Akufo-Addo’s visit to the area. He had admonished chiefs and people of Chereponi to bring to an end the incidents of conflict and violence that have plagued the town.
President Akufo-Addo said “the Ghana that we are trying to build does not have space for conflict and violence. The seizure of lands by Konkombas and Anufors, we should try and stop those things.
People have been farming for years, they know who farms on what land. We should try and bring those kinds of incidents to a conclusion. I am appealing through you for peace. Let peace remain here, ” the president remarked.
In a related development, the Tamale High Court has sentenced two convicts to a total of 10 years in prison with hard labour on Thursday for their roles in the current conflict. They were sentenced for possessing firearms and ammunition without lawful authority.
The convicts, Lac Nanyom and Nablek Dzakpaki were charged with 10 counts of possession of firearms and ammunition without lawful authority.
They were sentenced on their own guilty plea by Mr. Justice Richard Kogyapwa, Graphiconline reported.
The armed struggle is over ownership of land believed to be nothing more than two acres but with ancestral significance.
Chereponi is a Konkomba-dominated district. Chokosis, seen by the majority Konkombas as settlers, are a minority.
The Konkombas, who are one of the largest ethnic group in the north, until recently, did not have a paramount chieftaincy institution.
Land ownership is bargaining power for political representation in the region. Where land is owned, chieftaincy is created, where chieftaincy exists political representation becomes viable in institutions like the National House of Chiefs and influence in political parties is enhanced.
The attacks and reprisals between the Konkombas and Chokosis (also Chakosi) have been going on since the colonial times.