The Head of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, Professor Kwame Boafo-Arthur, has stated that the ability of the Kufuor administration to win the support of the economic powers which form the Group of Eight (GB) Industrialised Countries is unprecedented in the annals of Ghana.
"There is no government since independence which has played host to virtually all key leaders of the industrialised countries or their key representatives in rapid succession, as well as those countries playing host to our President. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) period is therefore, unprecedented," he asserted.
Prof Boafo-Arthur stated this during his inaugural lecture on ''Regime Change and Foreign Policy Orientation in Ghanaian Politics: The Post-Nkrumah Years in Perspective" at the University of Ghana on Thursday.
He said the NPP government's aggressive foreign economic policy, coupled with hardnosed neo-liberal economic policies, had differentiated its policies of economic diplomacy from those of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
According to him, the success of the government's economic diplomacy had been boosted in no small measure by its democratic credentials, saying, "It would have been extremely difficult for the government to pursue its economic diplomacy in such a forceful manner if it had not been operating on the same democratic princi¬ples with the benefactors and development partners."
Moreover, he said, added to the NPP's creditable democratic credentials were the hardnosed and courageous economic policies to bolster economic diplomacy and cater for the general welfare of the people, citing the adoption of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (RIPC) initiative as a clear example.
Prof Boafo-Arthur, therefore, called for the institutionalisation of the various operative mechanisms of the nation's economic diplomacy to facilitate the natural flow of international benefits and their sustenance, irrespective of who was at the helm of affairs.
He said the situation whereby economic gains which accrued from economic diplomacy appeared to be the outcome of the personal touch or intervention by the President portended a long-term danger to the sustainability of the policy, since the term of the President was bound to end.
According to him, the NDC's democratic deficit and the human rights baggage of former President Rawlings served as huge obstructions to attaining the ends of economic diplomacy.
Prof Boafo-Arthur said although the NDC government tinkered with economic diplomacy, its commitment to the policy was not total, since it could not convince itself that a lot could be gained to facilitate economic growth because of its poor track record on several governmental indicators, especially human rights.
He said it seemed the NDC had nothing to offer in exchange for international support, apart from rigid conformity with International Monetary Fund (IMF) prescriptions.
He stated that international diplomacy thrived on reciprocal exchanges and that a country must be able to chart a clear course in both international and domestic politics so as to gain international recognition and economic support.
"While the NPP has been able to do this under President Kufuor within a relatively short time, the NDC could not do so simply because its leader, former President Rawlings, did not have the positive democratic credentials which, at this time of our development, are the main things the nation can put on the table in bargaining for international economic support," he stated.
Touching on the foreign policies of the various governments since independence, Prof Boafo-Arthur said Dr Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention People's Party (CPP) should be judged largely on how the struggle for decolonisation and African unity fared.
He said although Dr Nkrumah was a dynamic and proactive leader who was very vocal in international affairs, the problems he encountered in foreign policy were due basically to the infighting among his own officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the incompetence of some of the diplomats, as was clearly evident in the Congo, as well as the machinations and intrigues of the bi-polar world at the time.
Prof Boafo-Arthur said the style of conducting international interactions also changed from the abrasive, vocal and outwardly confrontational approach of the Nkrumah period to quiet diplomacy during the era of the National Liberation Council (NLC).
He said the pursuit of quiet diplomacy and the downsizing of Soviet presence in Ghana were complemented by the expansion of the zones of interaction with international finance capital so as to ease the foreign debt it inherited from Nkrumah.
Under the Progress Party (PP) government of Dr K. A. Busia, he said, the government adopted new policy measures which brought it in direct confrontation with most African governments, especially the Aliens Compliance Order and the dialogue with Apartheid South Africa.
He said the foreign policy of General I. K Acheampong, under his National Redemption Council (NRC) and Supreme Military Council I (SMC I), marked him out as a crusader for asserting national sovereignty over state and other natural resources.
Prof Boafo-Arthur noted that regimes after Dr Nkrumah oscillated between the East and the West and equally pursued very confused and adhoc development programmes.
He therefore called for concerted efforts to sustain the current development, since Ghana's foreign policy had become more stable, focused, pragmatic and developmental.
"In a nutshell, Ghana has now reached the stage in its development where regime change or change in government is not bound to lead to a significant shift in foreign policy orientation. The avenue has, therefore, been created for the development and pursuit of a developmental foreign policy in Ghana," he stated.
Culled from Daily Graphic