The government of Ghana has sent in hundreds of army troops and declared a curfew in the township of Keta, Volta Region, after four people were killed in a longstanding chieftaincy dispute Nov. 1. One of the dead was a police officer, reportedly kidnapped by one of the rival factions after the clash. Security officials said one royal family in the district of Anloga was preparing a ceremony to install a new chief, when some 100 people from a rival family—armed with AK-47s and clubs—raided the site. The group opened fire on the some 40 police who were guarding the site, and the police returned fire. Three civilians died in the shooting, including a woman. The two royal families, both of the Anlo people, have been fighting over who should succeed the paramount chief—the Awoamefia in the Ewe language —who died 10 years ago.
In Ghana’s complex and powerful chieftaincy system, traditional chiefs wield considerable influence. Since independence in 1957, politicians have courted their support. Interior Minister Bartels told reporters: “The government reiterates its position of non-interference in chieftaincy affairs. The government, however, has an overriding responsibility to ensure peace, tranquility, and law and order.” (Modern Ghana, Nov. 3; IRIN via AllAfrica, Nov. 2)