Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic, has pleaded with the international community to make it abundantly apparent to coup plotters that their methods have never been, and will never be, effective ways to address Africa’s political, economic, and security problems.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “Statements condemning coups alone without corresponding action will, however, achieve little or nothing, as witnessed in recent times. This problem requires collective agreement, effective deterrence, bold action and, equally important, adequate preventive measures.”
On Friday, February 17, 2024, in Munich, Germany, during an event sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and held in conjunction with the Munich Security Conference, the President gave the keynote presentation “there are those who still hanker after authoritarian, personal rule, because they claim Africa is underdeveloped and democracy is cumbersome, and we need to get things done in a hurry.”
He stated that Africa has had more coup d’états than any other continent, which is “an unsavoury figure,” citing the 2019 Annual Risk of Coup Report.
President Akufo-Addo used the example of Ghana to illustrate how political volatility characterized a large portion of the country’s early years as an independent nation. Ghana gained a reputation for trying almost every political experiment under the sun.
“The one-party-state of the First Republic was overthrown in our first military coup, and the Second and Third Republics, which were practicing democratic governance, were also overthrown by coup d’états. My father, President of the 2nd Republic, was overthrown some fifty-one (51) years ago, on 13th January 1972. Kutu Acheampong’s coup brought his stay in office to an end,” he said.
The President continued, “the instability instigated the collapse of the economy, and led to the exodus from the country of many citizens and professionals. We have probably not still recovered from the tendency to want to leave the country as the answer to difficult situations.”
He noted, however, that for the past thirty (30) years of our 4th Republic, Ghana has enjoyed political stability under a multi-party constitution, and the longest period of stable, constitutional governance in our hitherto tumultuous history.
The President told the gathering that the separation of powers is now a real phenomenon in Ghanaian life, promoting accountable governance. Efficient public services are now within reach.
“We have, in this period, experienced, through the ballot box, the transfer of power from one ruling political party to another on three (3) occasions in conditions of peace and stability, without threatening the foundations of the state. The Ghanaian people have manifested in this era their deep attachment to the principles of democratic accountability, respect for individual liberties, human rights and the rule of law. It has also brought with it more or less systematic economic growth, and boosted immensely our self-confidence,” he added.
Condemn all Coups
The reappearance of coups in Africa, the President stated, in all its forms and manifestations must be condemned by all, since it seriously undermines “our collective bid to rid the continent of the menace of instability and unconstitutional changes in government, as currently defined by the frameworks enshrined in the Lomé Declaration, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and other important regional and continental instruments”.
In as much as drivers of unconstitutional changes are largely domestic, President Akufo-Addo noted that the international dimension cannot be overlooked.
“Foreign involvement in fomenting unconstitutional changes, often in favour of repressive governments, foreign economic interests and other would-be geo-political benefits, are contributory factors. Some foreign entities regard coups in African countries as a means of enhancing their regional ambitions,” he said.
He continued, “As such, they engage in all sorts of disinformation campaigns in a bid to disparage the authority of democratically elected governments and instigate opposition protests against incumbents.”
In implementing existing continental and regional instruments and protocols, the President noted that defaulting Member States are condemned and suspended from the activities of continental and regional bodies, and individual coup-makers are sanctioned.
“However, the reality is, these sanctions have not been applied uniformly. Whilst we are quick to sanction military coup leaders, civilians, who achieve similar ends via the manipulation of constitutions to remain in power, for example, go without sanctions, although their actions are clearly prohibited in our legal instruments. This means that the existing frameworks need to be strengthened to capture such infractions,” he added.