The Mediation Committee on the Alavanyo/Nkonya decades-old land dispute, on Tuesday briefed a United Nations (UN) team at a meeting in Ho about the process and progress made so far.

Mr Keith Wright, Senior Secretary, Inter-Department Framework for Coordination for Early Warning and Conflict Prevention at the UN Headquarters in New York led the team, which met with representative groups of the Nkonya and Alavanyo sides at separate meetings to have a feel of the situation on the ground.

Other members of the team were, Ms Shan Cooke, Associate Political Affairs Officer, Department of Political Affairs, UN Headquarters, Dr Ozannie Ojeilo, Senior Governance Advisor, UNDP, Ghana and Mr Francis Azuimah, Peace and Governance Advisor, UNDP, Ghana.

Rt. Rev. Livingstone Buama, Moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana, who is chairman of the Mediation Committee said the process had firmly established in the minds of the two sides a commitment to building peace, making the presence of a police/military detachment now unnecessary.

He said the clergy-led process initiated by government in 2004 was being supported with technical advice and training by the West African Network for Peace Building.

Rt. Rev. Buama said every move had been meticulous, from the figuratively stormy first meeting of the representative groups, when their verbal and body language put them at uncompromising positions to this moment when the sides intermingle so much that all can see “there is light at the end of the tunnel”.

He said apart from the talks with the chiefs, the process segmented into groups of youth, women, school pupils among others, each with its peace overture messages and strategies.

Rt. Rev. Buama said for easy permeation of the communities the mediation team had a three-tier structure, each side having consultative committees, which merged for joint consultative sessions.

He said each side’s claim to the disputed land had been captured in two survey maps, both of which would be put on the table at a critical meeting for them to iron out their differences.

Rt Rev. Buama, who was nominated by the two sides themselves to chair the committee, said the UN’s contribution could add value to the process.

Mr Wright said the UN would prefer that conflicts were identified and settled before it progressed into real battles since enforcing peace was expensive and not always successful.

He told a large number of Nkonya citizens who had converged at the Nkonya Secondary School Assembly Hall that they were brave to have fought with their feelings and decided for peace.
Mr Wright said the peace process had caught the attention of the UN and that, he would facilitate any help that the UN system could give.

Nana Okotor Kofi III, Omanhene of the Nkonya Traditional Area expressed confidence that “in the shortest possible time the people of Nkonya and Alavanyo would get to the top of the peace process”.

Nana Ampem-Darkoh II, Chief of Nkonya Ahundwo and Ankobeahene of the Traditional Area said their desire for peace was inviolable, warning that royals who would henceforth call for war should put their sons in front of the battle line.

At a meeting with the people of Alavanyo, Togbega Tsedze Atakora VII, Paramount Chief, said he could say without fear that the war was over but appealed to government to speed up development projects in the area.

The two sides jointly presented a kente cloth and strips with the inscription “Alavanyo and Nkonya Stand For Peace” to the UN team.

Besides the committee and its consultative teams are a network of clergymen in the area who have been shuttling between the communities to promote peace.

The Catholic Relief Services provided the first funding besides government through the Ho Diocese of the Church to kick-start the process after which some help had come from the UNDP.

The Nkonya/Alavanyo conflict over land, which had gone on for the past 83 years often resulted into gun fights resulting in numerous deaths from both sides.

It created a tense situation between the neighbours, many of whom had relations on the other side. The conflict also affected economic activity, as many who are predominantly farmers did not feel safe going to cultivate the land.

Emma Foli, from Elavanyo-Agorme declaring the uselessness of the conflict was elated that the sides could now visit each other’s markets and do business.

The consensus in contributions at the meetings was that government should facilitate the economic development of the area to give jobs to the idle hands.

Source: GNA

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