The Northern Region Election Early Warning And Response Group (REEWARG) has predicted imminent electoral violence connected to the youth of Northern Region leading to the December 7 polls.
According to group the violence will trickle down to musician camps, religious sects and political vigilante groups misunderstanding likely to degenerate into political upheaval.
President of the Catholic Archbishops Conference of Ghana, Most Rev. Philip Naameh who doubles as Chairman of REEWARG sent the early warning signal in a speech read on his behalf at a media briefing in Tamale.
“This is more so because there seems to be ready incentives for violence enticing these vulnerable youth.”
He thereby passionately appealed to the youth to serve as peace Ambassadors in their localities.
“Be mindful about your role and interest in politics and governance and be encouraged to ensure a peaceful environment in order to play those roles.”
“During this electioneering campaign season, the youth should rather ask the politicians critical questions on their manifestoes and plans and question the attitudes of those who want to win by all means.”
The Tamale Catholic Diocese Archbishop bemoaned, “Some of our local musicians have engaged in intense competition over who is or is more powerful than the other especially in terms of who has a larger following and this can incite their following to engage in violence this year”,
He also raised alarm over the numerous unresolved chieftaincy and land disputes recorded in the region.
Most Reverend Philip Naameh urged media practitioners in the region to be circumspect in their reportage.
“The media should not be used as a conduit to subvert the peace of the region and the country as a whole.”
“As media, you should be reminded that without peace everything will come to a standstill. The media itself cannot operate in a disorganised environment.”
“Experiences of other countries that suffered the effects of negative media reportage should constantly be keeping us in check that the role of the media is to inform, educate and entertain but not to inflame passions,” Reverend Naameh stressed.
He further kicked against media sensationalism saying, “Avoiding inflammatory language is very possible if you censor the messages of those who engage in intemperate language before letting it out to the public.”
“I am not concluding that you should blacklist such “Troublesome politicians” from radio discussions but you can act professionally to prevent them from being self-centered in their quest for power to the detriment of peace and security in our communities and of the nation”
The Executive Secretary of the Northern Regional Peace Council, Rev. Father Thaddeus Kuusah impressed upon the media to engage in conflict sensitive reporting.
This in his estimation could avoid inflaming passions when reporting on conflicts.
“Sometimes when we hear conflicts being reported we have the impression that it is mainly on one side but what we can do is to try to get the two sides to begin to talk to address their issues of concern.”
Rev. Father Kuusah added, “Avoid the use of words such as devastated, tragedy and terrorise to describe conflict situations in your reportage.”
The Tamale meeting was meant to pinpoint some key human security threats that could endanger national security during the forthcoming elections.
It was also used to remind journalists and media houses of their responsibility to zealously safeguard the nation’s peace before, during and after the December polls.
REEWARG is a peace advocacy group formed by the National Peace Council, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), West Africa Network for Peace-Building (WANEP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
By: Abdul Karim Naatogmah/citifmonline.com/Ghana