The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana Madam Trudy Kernighan has cautioned Ghana not to be complacent on peace and security especially as elections draw closer and asked that events in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire should be as guide to tread carefully.
“We live in interesting times, in the last year, Ghana has become an oil-producing nation and it is said that Ghana has reached middle income status but while the future looks bright, many challenges remain and success is not guaranteed”, she stressed.
Madam Kernighan raised these concerns on Thursday at Buipe in the Central Gonja District of the Northern Region during the opening ceremony of a two-day training workshop on peer mediation for women in the area.
The women were purposively selected from the Lebu and the Jinapor Gates, the two rival gates in the Buipe Chieftaincy conflicts and it is expected that the workshop would be translated into peace building efforts for amicable settlement of the dispute.
The workshop was organized by the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP-Ghana) and sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with support from the Central Gonja District Assembly. It was on the theme; “Enhancing women’s capacities for peace”.
Madam Kernighan said as the 2012 elections get closer, security challenges in the region and in any region become more critical and called on local capacities for peace to be strengthen to play an active role in preventing violence.
She said Ghana and Canada were long-standing partners in development and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) longest-running African programme is in the country.
Madam Kernighan said the Canadian Government was very much pleased to see women as key actors in peace building adding that “Canada was on the Security Council when it unanimously adopted Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security….it establishes a comprehensive agenda on women, peace and security”, she said.
She said though it might be true that women and children were the most vulnerable during times of conflicts, they can equally be the most powerful agents for peace and development.
Madam Kernighan called for the need for more civil society involvement in peace building since they have a vital role to play in early warning structures due to their direct access and presence in the communities affected in conflict-prone areas.
The District Chief Executive for Central Gonja Mr. Issifu Sulisu Be-Awuribe said the area used to be the beacon of peace and admiration by some conflict areas in the region but such admiration had been lost and called on the rival factions to give up their stands for peace to prevail.
He said the Assembly had spent huge sums of money on conflicts alone which otherwise could have been used for developmental projects adding, the Assembly spends GH¢15,000 monthly on conflicts resolution processes.
Mr. Be-Awuribe observed that women were the preservers of peace in the Traditional home and urged them to let such natural gifts be used in resolving the prevailing conflicts adding, ‘your actions and inactions must be towards the peace and not conflicts’.
Mr. Justin Bayor, National Coordinator of WANEP- Ghana, said the organization initiated the training workshop to promote peace to contribute to the peace building process that will make the women report pre-conflict signals to GHANAWARN.
He said facilitated dialogue sessions would be part of the workshop that will enable them document issues, concerns and fears of women from both chieftaincy factions and seek the way forward to building bridges.