Stating that coups were not the solutions to Africa’s problems, the President called for adequate preventive measures to stop them, and when they occurred, they must be met with collective and effective deterrence and bold actions.
President Akufo-Addo made the call when he delivered the keynote address at a side-event organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, last Friday.
He stated that there were those who still hankered after authoritarian, personal rule because they claimed Africa was underdeveloped, and democracy cumbersome, and as such they needed to get things done in a hurry.
Referring to the 2019 Annual Risk of Coup Report, he indicated that Africa had experienced more coup d’états than any other continent, describing it as “an unsavoury statistic”.
President Akufo-Addo noted that political instability dominated much of the early decades of Ghana’s life as an independent nation, with the country becoming notorious for sampling every and any type of political experiment.
Taking a deeper look at Ghana, the President said, “The one-party-state of the First Republic was overthrown in our first military coup, and the Second and Third Republics, which were practising democratic governance, were also overthrown by coup d’états.
“My father, President of the Second Republic, was overthrown some 51 years ago, on 13th January, 1972. Kutu Acheampong’s coup brought his stay in office to an end,” he said.
He indicated that instability instigated the collapse of the Ghanaian economy and led to the exodus from the country of many citizens and professionals, adding that Ghanaians had probably not recovered from the tendency to want to leave the country as the answer to difficult situations.
President Akufo-Addo noted, however, that for the past 30 years of the Fourth Republic, Ghana had enjoyed political stability under a multi-party constitution, and the longest period of stable, constitutional governance in its hitherto tumultuous history.
The President added that separation of powers was now a real phenomenon in Ghanaian life, promoting accountable governance, while efficient public services were 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 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.
President Akufo-Addo noted that coups, in all its forms and manifestations, must be condemned by all, since it seriously undermined the collective bid of the people to rid the continent of the menace of instability and unconstitutional changes in government.
That, he explained, was 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 were largely domestic, President Akufo-Addo noted that the international dimension could not 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.
“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,” he stated.
In implementing existing continental and regional instruments and protocols, the President noted that defaulting member states were condemned and suspended from the activities of continental and regional bodies, and individual coup-makers were 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.