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09.08.2003 Feature Article

Genuine Ingenuity: Foreign Policy And Domestic Affairs

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"...And he shall reign forever and ever" So goes a part of the widely acclaimed composition of George Frederick Handel entitled "The Messiah" that so got to King George II of Hanover that he stood up in reverence, established a tradition and thereby proclaimed the glory of the lord. Once upon a time, a Reverend Minister tried to outdo nature by positing a "forever reign" for a mere mortal. Some have said this is the basis for the "Sankoh Syndrome" that is gradually manifesting itself in Ghana and by extension African states which more or less is premised on delusions of grandeur, so dangerous that it threatens to lead to a replay of Sampson's debacle during his last tiff with the Philistines of Biblical fame. Who the Cap fits...

So why this introduction and where is one going with these "digressions"? This article was inspired by a debate on Conflict Prevention, Resolution and Crises Management in a Post-Graduate class. Al Qaeda had presented a good case study together with a couple of innumerable entities close to yours truly's present domicile, ranging from the PFLP of George Habash through the DFLP, FATAH, HAMAS, ISLAMIC JIHAD and of course the now defunct PKK turned KADEP of Turkey. Right in course of the discussion, the question was posed: "our friend from Ghana, your country seems to be in the forefront of efforts to negate the growing tendency of insurgencies in West Africa. What makes Ghana play such a role and why has Ghana been able to establish itself as an oasis of stability in an endemically unstable part of the region?"

The nationalism in me rose to the occasion. Why not? The NPP government had given me more than enough reason and examples to make a spirited defense once again to erase the erroneous impressions that the Western Media keeps feeding the illiterate literates of the West as far as African affairs are concerned. My simple answer was that the first thing H.E John Agyekum Kufuor did by way of foreign policy was to establish close ties with our immediate neighbours who all happen to be former French colonies. This has bought Ghana the tranquility it needs to concentrate on other equally important matters at no cost whatsoever. My explanation to buttress this point was that in so doing, the government had nothing to worry about by way of fear of dissident activity across the borders and thereby spend huge sums on arms acquisition, for it has indeed become practically impossible for Blaise Campoare, Gnassingbe Eyadema or Laurent Gbagbo to allow the use of their sovereign territori! es to launch incursions into Ghana. In one dramatic break with the past, the NPP government had removed the animosity that existed between Ghana and Togo as well as with Burkina Fasso for all sorts of reasons too numerous to adduce here.

But the story does not end there. Buying a respite is only one part. Maybe it is the Diplomat in H.E John Kufuor that induces him to go a step further in seeking to find amicable and long-term solutions to the hydra-headed problems of the sub-region especially in his position as Chairman of ECOWAS. It is also interesting that his government chose to nominate and support another astute Ghanaian with impeccable credentials from the opposition NDC to fill the vacuum at the Secretariat of ECOWAS. Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas was after all, a veteran in the business of resolving West African imbroglios because his academic qualifications notwithstanding, Dr. Chambas together with Brigadier (Rtd?) Francis Agyemfra have tasted the full venom of insurgency, what with a shell dropping into the bunker of the Ghanaian navy ship on which they were temporarily holed up to find a solution to Charles Taylor's shelling of Monrovia way back in the 1990's? The man simply and practically knows ! the turf. If ever there was a doubt about the President's choices, these little droplets of information demonstrate that he does infact take the security situation in the sub-region very very seriously, more so when the highly mobile financial capital needed for development seeks no other place but stable enclaves to settle and make a mark before taking flight to other profitable areas. In other words, the attempt at attracting investment would be half successful if the requisite stability and tranquility prevails not only in Ghana but also in the entire region. The rest of course must be premised on good governance and openness.

Worrisome Developments

If the above measures are laudable to propel the sub-region unto the world stage for the "right reasons", then all other negative factors would have to be dealt with as part of a holistic effort to sustain the whole gamut of measures being implemented. Yes there would have to be Summits (costly as they are to our already overburdened coffers) use of good offices, negotiations, conciliation, mediation, accords, more accords and the most difficult of them all, implementation of those accords. But the debate did catch yours truly off guard for the reality that was thrown at me by a colleague was as true as the death of Foday Sankoh: "but West Africa is setting dangerous precedents for developing countries. Your leaders are actually making deals with rebel groups that gives them legitimacy akin to that reserved only for democratically elected governments". I almost cried. Yes it is true. We are actually setting dangerous precedents that have no other effect than to convince t! he malcontents to take to the thickets, shoot their way to the outskirts of the capitals and then pause for negotiations that would bring them as close to the levers of power as possible.

This must be frowned upon and rejected for all it is worth. Yes Mr. Charles Taylor would have little tears shed for him upon his exit for reasons best known to himself but NO; making deals with the marijuana inspired LURD and MODEL guttersnipes intimidating the ordinary people of Liberia is not the way forward. If for nothing at all, one is inclined to believe that these rebel groups took a cue from what had transpired in Abidjan and also staked their claim for after all what was good for the goose must certainly be good for the gander. One shudders to think what would happen if the Dodowa forest becomes a haven for riff-raffs to train and start their march towards Accra, never mind that at the time of writing this article, reports have started filtering in about a foiled coup attempt by operatives of the immediate past Ghanaian regime.

We cannot have it both ways. As Pervez Musharaff has stated, "there is no single formula for democracy" although there are basic tenets and norms that must be adhered to by all practitioners irrespective of place or origin. We must hasten to draw the line that rebel insurgencies shall not be tolerated henceforth. It is the opinion of this writer that by refusing to recognize them, we would be nipping in the bud the determination to choose a short cut to power: insurgencies that lead up to negotiations with the elected government are another form of coup d'etats. They constitute theft of the peoples mandate by force of arms or exacted through intimidation and threats. Surely the sub-region deserves better than that.

Intelligence

We cannot overemphasize the role of intelligence in the drive to avert possible outbreaks of conflict in the region. These range from institutionalized entities, operatives and the ordinary people. For the ordinary people to provide the state or for that matter the government with tip offs, there must be good governance. Providing monetary inducement would not be sustainable because as Kofi Quantson has argued in his "Chapters From the Intelligence Sector", there are those who for wont of making a 'quick buck' would frame many an innocent person upon all sorts of spurious allegations. With good governance however, it is likely that the entirety of the populace would consider the maintenance of peace and the prevention of conflict as the responsibility of each and every individual, for it is only in such a peaceful atmosphere that there can really be "Development in Freedom".

One must also add that the proliferation of arms and ammunition has fueled the rising spate of insurgencies in the region. The sort of firepower being displayed by people who would be better of learning how to write computer programmes or engaging in some form of manufacturing baffles and boggles the mind for how can we keep screaming ourselves hoarse about poverty reduction, poverty alleviation, lack of capital and all the other redundant excuses being flaunted about when in the midst of that same poverty, very expensive arms are being brandished about by insurgents, sometimes to the awe of the national armed forces? Who funds these rebels? Why are they funded? At what cost are they being funded? How reliable would they be after shooting their way to power? What would be their effect on the development of nascent democracy in the sub-region? What example are they setting for the ever increasing but despairing youth?

One cannot overlook the intricacies of the present situation and jump to conclusions about disengagement with the current protagonists. Nevertheless, it must be the case that West African leaders would finally have the courage to say "The Buck Stops in Monrovia". This pathetic tendency of leaders settling personal scores against other fellow leaders in the sub-region by sponsoring and supporting wee-energized rebels would have to stop now. If for nothing at all, "some people" have shown how national interest can override and indeed change international law. Today, preemption has become the norm and it would be interesting for anybody to think that had he not been under sanctions Charles Taylor would not have violated the territorial integrity of Guinea to flush out his present day tormentors using the oft repeated phrase of "terrorists and those who harbour them". Ghana has once again been a pacesetter in choosing the right way out that benefits her neighbours as well. Th! e challenge facing the region is of course how to replicate Ghana's experience across the territorial confines of morbidly opposed sovereign neighbours. For this challenge to be thoroughly addressed, we must first declare categorically that there would be no compromise with rebel groups-ever again. The buck must categorically stop in Monrovia! Calus Von Brazi Ghana Cyber Group Washington DC Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Calus Von Brazi
Calus Von Brazi, © 2003

The author has 20 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: CalusVonBrazi

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