20 Years of traditional diplomacy and conflict resolution

20 Years of traditional diplomacy and conflict resolution
Source: Ghana|Sylvester Kwame Osei |skosei001@st.ug.edu.gh
Date: 21-05-2019 Time: 05:05:58:pm
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The Asantes have been endowed with strong political governance since the 15th century. Long, before the constitutional rule, traditional institutions had governance structures which worked effectively. The Asante monarchy had traditional leaders who led the people to war, ensured the enforcement of tax systems among others. 

In all this, peace and stability form an integral part of good governance in traditional and political leadership. So, even after the introduction of constitutional rule, the traditional institutions continue to play a parallel role of governance with political leaders who ‘lean on’ the wisdom of our traditional leaders in ruling the people. 

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II leads one of the biggest ethnic groups in Ghana. He was enstooled, on the ‘Golden Stool,’ on April 26, 1999. The ‘Golden Stool,’ popularly known among the Asantes as “Sika Dwa Kofi,” represents the unity and strength of Asanteman, as conjured by Okomfo Anokye in the 17th Century. Since his ascension, Otumfuo Osei Tutu has marshalled forces to war against poverty, social unrest and conflict, in order to promote tranquillity and development. 

Due to this, the Asantehene has been instrumental in ensuring peace and coexistence, in times of high stakes which may have fueled some form of violence. One notable area of achievement of Asantehene has been his ability to use traditional diplomacy in resolving and brokering peace in many instances across the country. This has earned him the accolade of “King Solomon”, as he has been able to solve decade-long conflicts. 

Dispute Resolution Process

There are various administrative and procedural steps in conflict resolution when Asantehene sits in the state for a hearing. The case is first lodged by a plaintiff at the Palace from which all parties to the case are identified and invited. On the day of the hearing, the dress code is mostly black (kuntunkuni) to signify seriousness. As the King sits in state, he invites in turn, all parties to come and give their testimonies to the issue.

Depending on the magnitude of the case, it can be adjourned for further deliberation and consultation to ascertain and verify the facts and merits of the case. Sometimes, Asantehene can delegate officers from the Palace (Otumfuo Akrakye) to visit the area in question and undertake independent observation and investigations. The verdict is pronounced and sanctions are meted out. After the verdict, there is also room to appeal the verdict if a party is not satisfied with the ruling.


Chieftaincy and Land Disputes

Upon his enthronement, Asantehene set out to resolve chieftaincy and land disputes that was endemic to development. It is to the credit of Otumfuo that within the first couple of years after his enstoolment, many cases had been settled to the satisfaction of all the parties. This paved the way for new chiefs to be installed in communities that were plagued with chieftaincy disputes. 

There had been chieftaincy disputes that had been pending for decades and over from Bekwai, Kokofu, Akwaboa etc. For example, there was a stool dispute at Effiduase that was pending for 23 years before the enthronement of Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Asantehene used 1 year, 9 months in resolving the issue and restoring traditional stability at Effiduase.

The Asantehene's Lands Office has been instrumental in regularizing land acquisition in the Ashanti region. The King intervened to address the long formalities of acquiring land documents from the Lands Commission through the Land Documentation Project. With the Project, landlords were invited to apply for lease at a subsidized cost.

Kumasi Declaration

The Kumasi Declaration was a step initiated by Asantehene on taking a stand against electoral violence, impunity and injustice in Ghana. Even when Ghana was touted as a democratic hub for the sub-region, general elections in the year 2012 was characterized by high stakes which brought about tension and fear of violence. In order to stabilize the serene and peaceful atmosphere, the Asantehene created a platform for all the political parties to commit to peace and accept the results from the Electoral Commission, irrespective of the results. 

This foiled prospective action of political parties not accepting results of elections and charging the people to resort to violence and mayhem. The beautiful ceremony at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology brought together flagbearers of the National Democratic Congress, National Patriotic Party, and Convention Peoples’ Party among others. Subsequently, the elections were peaceful and all candidates accepted the results, thanks to the proactive intervention of Otumfuo. 

Dagbon Crisis

Tribal conflicts were rife in the Dagbon after the Yaa-Naa (Paramount chief of Yendi) was assassinated in a particularly gruesome manner. This event was a security concern as it brought instability to the region and beyond. Curfews and heavy military presence were not a sustainable anecdote to the situation.

The government of the day constituted the Otumfuo-led Committee of Eminent Chiefs, with the mandate of facilitating negotiation and mediation talks between the Andani and Abudu royal families, and drawing and implementing a roadmap for the restoration of peace in the Kingdom of Dagbon. Asantehene was seen as the ideal lead to the conflict resolution process due to his reverence, leadership and impartiality.

The Committee took turns to engage all parties in the situation and at Manhyia Palace to resolve the issue. A conflict-resolution roadmap was drawn from all the stakeholder engagements. The implementation of the peace roadmap witnessed the successful funeral rites of the late Yaa-Naa, Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II. The conflict has been resolved amicably and in February 2019, after a decade long of dispute resolution processes led by Asantehene.

Peace and development have been restored as a new Yaa-Naa, Yoo Naa Abubakar has been enskinned and has been accepted by all traditional parties in the case. As we celebrate Asantehene’s 20 years of achievement, Asanteman appreciates his role in national development and we look forward to many more years of socio-cultural stability and development in Ghana. 

*Sylvester Kwame Osei is a member of Asante Professionals Club. Reach him on 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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