Security analysts have urged, Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, to step down from a process to end the renewed conflict in Chereponi.
Dr Emmanuel Kwesi Aning and Dr Chukwuemeka Eze cite perceptions that the Minister may be biased towards one of the factions as the basis for their advice.
The Defense Minister, who is a Konkomba – one of the two factions in the long-drawn-out conflict – has been accused of using the military to back his Konkomba tribe against the Chokosis.
The Minister has admitted that his association with the Konkomba tribe has festered the perception of bias but told Joy News his hands are clean.
He said he is committed to bringing peace to the region and vowed to use his office to achieve that.
But speaking on PM Express on Monday, Dr Eze, who is Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) said the Minister’s clear intentions notwithstanding, he must step down from the Chereponi mediation process.
“I do not think that he is guilty of bias…but in mediation once a party feels you are biased the ethics say you have to withdraw. The perception is strong enough,” he told PM Express host, Evans Mensah.
“The moment one of the parties sees you as bias the best thing is to take the back seat,” he stressed on the nightly current affairs programme that airs on the Joy News channel on MultiTV.
Adding his voice to call, Dr Aning, Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), said the continued inclusion of the Defence Minister in the mediation process is a sign of poor advice from the Minister’s handlers.
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“Because this is a conflict that has become almost intractable and stories have turned into myths, and the myths have solidified over time, it is crucial that whoever leads that process is perceived to be totally neutral and unblemished.
You know in this country perceptions are crucial and that in most conflict situations the protagonists are driven, not by rationality, more often than not, by emotions. So the ability to separate reality and emotions from facts and perceptions is crucial,” he said on the programme.
The Konkombas and Chokosis tribes have frequently waged war against each other over a small piece of land in the poverty-stricken Chereponi district.
The clashes in April this year displaced some 1, 860 residents, according to the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) estimates.
The long-standing conflict in the town has been blamed on the government’s inability to adequately resource police to deal with the fluid security situation.
Police have been appealing for logistics such as motorbikes to access remote parts of the district where gunmen wreak havoc on residents, mostly women and children.
Politicians must not mediate
Mr Emmanuel Kotin, Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Security and Counter-Terrorism, also said Mr Nitiwul must withdraw from the mediation process, not because of the perceived bias, but because he is a politician.
He wants the Minister to get goodwill ambassadors to boost the peace process.