Members of District Peace Committees in four Assemblies in the Northern Region have undergone training to empower them to engage the youth in their communities to eschew violence before, during and after this year’s elections.
They were taken through election related security situations, violent incidents and early warning signs, peace building, conflict resolution and Anti-Vigilantism and related Offences Act, and electoral processes for the 2020 elections.
The District Peace Committees are composed of traditional authorities, religious leaders, political parties, youth groups previously noted for political vigilante activities amongst others from the Tamale, Savelugu, Gushegu and Nanton Assemblies.
They were constituted by the Centre for Active Learning and Integrated Development (CALID) and the League of Youth Association, both non-governmental organisations, as part of their “Vigilant Citizens for Peaceful Election 2020” project, which is being implemented in the four Assemblies with funding from the STAR Ghana Foundation.
The project, which will end in February, 2021, seeks to amongst other things ensure peace before, during and after the 2020 elections.
The District Peace Committees work to identify youth groups, who have the potential to cause violence in the build up to election 2020, engage them to appeal to their conscience to refrain from violence and embrace community development and embark on peace campaign to advocate peaceful coexistence.
Mr Salifu Saeed, Northern Regional Minister, whose speech was read on his behalf during the two-day training, which ended in Tamale on Thursday, called for education of the public especially the youth to abide by the country’s laws to ensure incident-free elections.
Police Superintendent, Mr Iddrisu Mohammed Tanko, Tamale District Police Commander, who made a presentation on the topic: “Electoral Related Security Situations: Violent Incidences and Early Warning Signals and Electoral Hot Spots, “said the Police Administration had created various units to promote peace in the upcoming 2020 general election.
Superintendent Tanko mentioned some of the units, which included; Counter Terrorism to curtail all sorts of violence, where there would be the use of weapons, Formed Police, Ballot Security Agencies, and standby men at all polling stations.
Reverend Father Thaddeus Kuusah, Executive Secretary of the Northern Regional Peace Council, who made a presentation on “Peacebuilding, Conflict Resolution and Early Warning Signs, and Anti-Vigilantism and related Offences Act,” expressed the need for the residents to live at peace with one another.
Reverend Kuusah advised the youth not to be misled by unscrupulous persons to foment trouble before, during and after this year’s elections, saying there were severe sanctions for those who would flout the laws.
Mr Lucas Yiryel, Northern Regional Director of Electoral Commission explained the electoral processes for the 2020 elections and urged all qualified citizens to participate in the elections.
Mr Mohammed Awal Sumani Bapio, Executive Director of CALID said “We all are aware that the activities of youth vigilantism in the past had potential of threatening the existing peace the country is enjoying. We must not allow the peace of our country to be destroyed by political vigilantism.”
Mr Bapio, therefore, reminded members of the District Peace Committees that “you are seen as peace ambassadors of your various districts and communities,” urging them to play their roles effectively to ensure incident-free elections this year.
Some of the participants said the training had equipped them with skills to manage and resolve conflicts in their communities in the lead up to this year’s elections to ensure peaceful polls.