Wednesday, November 12, 2008


THE Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC) has identified about 55 constituencies in the country with a high potential for violence during the December general election.
Information gathered in an on-going study being conducted by the Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution Department (CPMRD) of the Centre, shows that geopolitical and certain social factors with the approaching elections, could lead to conflicts in the areas identified.
Specific constituencies could not be given because of the sensitive nature of the study and also the fact that researchers are still on the field collecting additional information.
The head of the CPMFD, Dr Kwesi Aning, told the Daily Graphic that the study was a follow up to a Conflict Vulnerability Assessment for Ghana conducted in 2002 by on the propensity of conflicts in the country.
The study is also linked to on-going studies in the area of crime and the availability of firearms in the country.
Briefing the Daily Graphic on the study, Dr Aning said the election was a specific factor that contributed with other indicators to make the places identified high flash points.
Other indicators gathered by researchers who are still on the field, are constituencies with tight margins between presidential and parliamentary candidates of the two biggest parties of the country, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Dr Aning said although information gathered showed that the differences could sometimes be as low as five percent or just about a hundred votes, these still created suspicions of election malfeasance in the constituencies identified.
Other factors identified were previous conflicts among people, the influence of the youth as a political rallying force, internal migration patterns and areas with tension over identity politics.
With the youth as a contributory factor in conflict creation, Dr Aning said the influence and power of organising the youth for political advantage was not new in the sub-region.
The youth was, therefore, a factor in escalating conflicts depending on how they were organised, he added.
He said within the youth as a group, there was also sub-categories of the unemployed who used their low economic status to engage in violence as a pretext in assuaging their circumstance.
Dr said in such instances, conflicts as started and perpetuated by such youth then became an end in itself and not a means to perhaps gain political leverage.
Migratory patterns, Dr Aning explained, tended to distort the ethnic balance in certain areas.
For instance, migratory inflows from the Northern parts of Ghana to larger towns such as Kumasi and Accra, tended to translate indigenous struggles and age-old tensions within groups.
Identity politics, Dr Aning said, related to settlers on lands in the Akyem, Brong, Breman and some Northern lands, who had through access to modern political power and influence, ursuped the traditional forms of power of the original peoples.
He said conflicts were not only acts of violence but included verbal abuse, the defacing of posters and the threat of violence that could compel people to change their way of life.
Dr Aning said the information gathered so far with others would be used to support the Ghana Police Service to ensure peace and order in the country.


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