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Use your influence, moral authority to promote peace – Religious leaders told

Religious leaders in Ghana have been urged to use their huge followership, influence and moral authority to promote peaceful coexistence and resolve conflicts to accelerate sustainable development.

‘If you look at the followership that Islam, Christianity and traditional worship among other religions command, it is huge and so if in their messaging and preaching, they keep base to speaking about peace, we believe it would travel far.

‘Even if you look at the two main religions alone, that is Christianity and Islam, in Ghana we constitute more than 90 per cent in terms of followership and if you take any of the cases of conflict in the region, you will realise that the people who are involved cut across all the religions.’

Dr Joseph Bangu, the Director of Good Governance, Justice and Peace Directorate of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocesan Development Organisation (NABOCADO), gave advice at an inter-faith advocacy forum on peacebuilding and conflict prevention in the Upper East Region.

The forum was
organised by NABOCADO, as part of the Integrated Peacebuilding for Improved Food and Nutrition Support (INPEACE) project, funded by MISEREOR, and aimed at contributing to building peace structures within the Diocese.

The forum brought together leaders of various religions and denominations and aimed to afford the stakeholders an opportunity to build a network and brainstorm on strategies to improve regional security, prevent conflict in Elections 2024 and threats from the Sahel region, promote peace and protect livelihoods.

Dr Bangu explained that there had been incidents of internal conflicts within the Diocese especially in Bawku, where the protracted chieftaincy conflict had become a major hindrance to life and development and underscored the significant role religious leaders had to play in dispute resolution.

He said the forum was also to ensure that the various religious leaders worked on a common platform to leverage their strengths and undertake activities that would help promote peace and prevent

‘This forum intends to mobilise support from all the faith groups within the Diocese so that we are able to engage when issues of conflict come up,’ he said.

Reverend Father Augustine Adams, the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocesan Coordinator in charge of Inter-faith Dialogue, explained that peace was development and that was what all the religions stood for, and it was important to work together to achieve maximum impact.

Mr Adam Mustapha Sheriff, the Spokesperson for the Upper East Regional Chief Imam, said misinformation and youth unemployment were major factors that had caused conflicts in the region and people who loved violence took advantage of the situations, to escalate them leading to loss of lives and destruction of properties.

He said it was in the right direction that the various religions worked together to increase advocacy for peace in communities, and to play preventive roles instead of waiting to resolve conflicts when they had already happened.

Reverend Simon Asige, the Cha
irman of Concerned Clergy for Peace, Upper East Region, said because several people had confidence in religious leaders it was important that ahead of the Elections 2024, pastors and other preachers used their platforms to preach peace and desist from inciting fear and violence.

Source: Ghana News Agency