NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE RECONSTITUTED REGIONAL PEACE COUNCILS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
The National Peace Council (NPC) is responsible for promoting peace in the country and by the NPC Act [Act 818] of 2011, it is mandated to establish Regional Peace Councils in the ten administrative regions of the country. The eminent members of the maiden Regional Peace Councils have served their four year term, paving the way for the re-constitution of new Regional Councils. It is against this background that the National Peace Council, beginning from today, November 6, 2018, is inaugurating the ten reconstituted Regional Peace Councils starting from the Central and Northern Regions. There is no doubt that the task ahead of the new members of the Regional Councils is very tough, considering the fact that their tenure of office would extend beyond election 2020 which could present very challenging hurdle for members to scale. However, what is reassuring is the fact that some members of the immediate past councils have been re-nominated by their respective institutions and bodies to serve for a second term. The wealth of knowledge and experience in conflict resolution and mediation acquired over the years would be brought to bear on the current councils and new members would also tap into the expertise of the old members to help resolve conflicts and promote peace in the country. Studies have shown that conflicts in Africa will continue to increase exponentially in the years to come. Ghana is not out of woods yet as it is faced with multiplicity of conflicts ranging from ethnicity, land and chieftaincy disputes to vigilantism. A seminal research conducted by the University of Cape Coast commissioned by the NPC with support from the UNDP indicates that there is conflict in every part of the country. In response to these conflicts and other crises, the national peace architecture was developed and mandated to facilitate the prevention of conflicts in the country.
Since its establishment, the Peace Council has helped to resolve a lot of conflicts which could have far-reaching consequences for peace and stability of the country. Undeniably, during elections, the Council time without number has deployed subtle diplomacy to mediate between the two main political parties over election disputes and to defuse political tension before, during and after the election year. Where there are disputes over election results, countries like Ghana and Kenya with a well-designed peace architecture stand a better chance of resolving the conflicts than Cote d’Ivoire, with no such mechanism to call the feuding parties to dialogue. For instance, in Election 2016, the Central Regional Peace Council brokered the peace at Ekumfi Constituency in the Ekumfi District following a dispute over the parliamentary election between the two leading political parties. It is important to observe that with the restoration of the peace, President Nana Akufo-Addo was able to launch the One District One Factory programme in the area without any hindrance. The Brong Ahafo Regional Peace Council in a bid to manage on-going local conflict at Sankore continues to offer constructive engagement to all stakeholders of the conflict to arrive at amicable solutions. These feats chalked by the Regional Peace Councils deserve commendation, despite the funding challenges facing them in the discharge of their duties. To the old members who put their lives and comfort at risk to steer the affairs of the councils to a successful end, we say Ayeeko! As the new members take office to begin another four-year term, they should be reminded that their appointment is a call to national duty to champion peace in all its forms so as to facilitate national development. As they gird their loins for the battle ahead, we say May God be their helper! Long live Ghana! Long live the Regional Peace Councils! Long live the National Peace Council!
BY: GEORGE OKO MENSAH, A FREELANCE JOURNALIST.