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01.01.2009 Feature Article

The Election 2008 Story: The coup d'état that almost worked

The Election 2008 Story: The coup d'état that almost worked
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A coup d'état, often simply called a coup, is the sudden unconstitutional overthrow of a government by a (typically small) part of the state establishment – usually the military – to replace the branch of the stricken government, either with another civil government or with a military government.

The coup d'état succeeds if its opponents fail to thwart the usurpers, allowing them to consolidate their positions, obtain the surrender of the overthrown government or acquiescence of the populace and the surviving armed forces, and thus claim legitimacy. Coups d'état typically use the power of the existing government for the takeover. As Edward Luttwak remarks in Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook: A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder. In this sense, the use of either military or another organized force is not the defining feature of a coup d'état.

The key of a coup, therefore, lies in the displacement of government, and not in the ways and means it is done. Ghana has had its complement of coups:
1966 Military coup.
1967 Attempted military coup ("Guitar-boy").1972 Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong led a coup d'état to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Progress Party and its leader Dr. Kofi Busia on 13 January 1972.
1981 31 December Flt. lt. Jerry John Rawlings stages a second successful military coup overthrowing Dr. Hilla Limann's constitutional government.

The most notorious coups or attempted coups, however, are not listed as such in the history books. They are the coup by the NPP (New Patriotic Party) in 2004, and the attempted coup by the same NPP in 2008/09. Both of these coups had the same objective in mind – to displace the democratically elected NDC (National Democratic Congress) – government. In 2004 the NPP succeeded. In 2008/09 they are in a desperate last mile attempt to do the same.

It is today common knowledge that the NPP stole the 2004 election through manipulation of election results in the strong room of the EC (Electoral Commission). NPP operatives to today have a good laugh over a beer about how easily they did it then in the absence of an organised and vigilant NDC machinery. Even Prof. Mills, when conceding in 2004, said that he knew the election was stolen by the NPP but in the interest of Ghana and in order to prevent bloodshed and civil war he will concede knowing well that deceit then will come to bite the NPP in 2008.

The bold and arrogant way in which they tried to repeat the same coup after unsuccessful and massive rigging operations was reported on the Internet as follows:

“Faced with a palpable and veritable drubbing by Professor Mills, what was the last desperate resort of the NPP rigging machinery?

This may sound like an Ayiyi and Adetsorvi story but it is fact. A bodacious attempt to change polling results that had been previously collated and certified at the district level, was put in motion. Let me to explain into some detail what exactly we are talking about here. At the constituency level when votes are counted and collated, the party representatives present are required to append their signature signalling that they certify the results to be accurate. These certified results are countersigned by the electoral commission official present. The final document is faxed to the EC strong room in Accra. So if you were listening to radio or on the web last night, these certified results were the ones being reported, and it is the winner of this tally who becomes president. Here is where NPP's bodacious attempt to steal the election this afternoon came in. Kwabena Agyepong, an NPP operative, appeared at the Electoral Commission's strong room. By the time he left, one EC official was attempting to change certified Ashanti Region voter figures; figures, which had been certified and reported late last night. And when NDC monitoring officials questioned what the official was doing, he responded that the new figures were corrected ones from Ashanti Region; figures not certified by EC personnel at the constituency level and figures carried into EC headquarters by an NPP operative. And the new figures were all significantly higher than the previously certified ones that were reported to the public earlier. Trouble and pandemonium ensued at the EC headquarters. The brazen and incredible aspect of this daylight robbery was the fact that NPP attempted to conduct this illegality in the full view of tens of NDC and NPP officials at no other venue than the Electoral Commission's strong room. A very bold attempt indeed.”

Why? What is wrong with NPP?
What kind of desperation makes a party resort to these tactics? And this is the same party that consistently labels NDC as undemocratic, coup loving and thuggish? How different is a party that usurps the popular will of voters through such machinations? How different is such a party from a military regime borne of a coup d'etat? What is the difference? Is it because the NPP is usurping Ghana without guns? Is it the absence of AK47s and M16s that make the difference?

And these are the very people who spare no opportunity to lecture us about democracy and good governance?

BTW, what edict stipulates that Akufo Addo must be president at all cost? Was he ordained by God? Was he born of a special birth and predestined to become president? Why?

What an irony! The supposed coup party, NDC, organized peaceful elections and handed over peacefully to the self-acclaimed democrats in 2000, and yet the so-called democrats cannot countenance handing over to anyone else? Is this a Hollywood script or reality? Why?

For the longest, I have labelled the NPP as a cabal of self-seeking crooks who have hijacked our democracy to private ends. They speak the language of democracy, and tote lofty and high-sounding democratic ideals but in reality, democracy has always been a cover behind which they hide to obtain our mandate. Their real motivation for seeking our votes is to use the mandate and the power to seek wealth, illegally and criminally. That's all they care about. In 8 years they've all become dollar millionaires with no work, labour or investment to show for it. So why are they doing their damnest to remain in power?

Their very daily breads are at stake, hence the push to retain power by hook or crook. There is not a single iota of democratic conviction in those who hold the reins of power in NPP. The Kufuors, the Akufo Addos and Osafo Marfos are simply smooth operating crooks who have hijacked our democracy to work their self-serving iniquities.”

Reuben Hladze Ghanaweb, 1 January 2009
The 2008/09 coup attempt is fortunately known, and all efforts are made to prevent it. However, no stone should be left unturned after this election to identify the perpetrators of the fraud and coup makers, and to bring them to justice. A coup attempt, after all, is a treasonable act and punishable by death.

Dennis Boateng
Dennis Boateng, © 2009

The author has 1 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: DennisBoateng

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