Chiefs express concern about proliferation of arms during elections
Some traditional rulers in the Northern region has expressed concern about the proliferation of arms in the region, especially during elections and warned of the threat it poses to peace.
They said they suspected such arms were supplied to the youths by some politicians to further their political ambitions through fair or foul means, adding, the youth who gain access to the arms use them to fire into the crowds indiscriminately on voting day.
The Chiefs were at a forum organized by the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons for chiefs in Tamale on Friday.
The forum among other things sought to forge a closer relationship with the Chiefs and the Commission on how to strategise to control the circulation of small arms in the communities and promote non-violent and peaceful resolution of conflicts and also to ensure violent-free elections in 2012.
The Chiefs appealed to the Commission to engage the political parties to discuss the proliferation of arms in the Region during elections and make them realize its dangerous implications so that together they could find a solution to the problem.
The Chiefs also appealed to the Commission to find a way of licensing the traditional weapons in the palaces which they use in musketry during traditional festivals so that they are not seen as illegal.
Mr Jones Applerh, Acting Executive Secretary of the Commission, said the Commission recognized the critical role of chiefs in conflict prevention and resolution and acknowledges them as stakeholders whose involvement in curbing the proliferation of small arms and ensuring peace cannot be overemphasized.
He however observed that, whilst some traditional authorities were perceived as “conflict entrepreneurs’ who profited from armed conflicts to the detriment of the larger community, there were several others who were genuinely concerned about armed conflict and its impact on development.
Mr Applerh said statistics about arms circulation in the country was worrying, saying a baseline assessment of illicit arms conducted in 2004 estimated that there were at least 220,000 small arms in civilian hands.
“We believe that the small arms problem at our hands is not just a security issue but also a development and public health problem which can be prevented or at least reduced just like HIV/AIDS or any other epidemic,” Mr Applerh said.