“African Union vindicates Atta-Mills …. – Spio-Garbrah

“African Union vindicates Atta-Mills peaceful policy on Cote d’ivoire, Akufo Addo-led NPP come again”

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By Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Ambassador to the USA & Mexico

On Thursday 27 January, writing in my personal capacity as a citizen of Ghana and from my experience as a former Ambassador of Ghana to the USA & Mexico, I wrote in the Daily Graphic to commend President John Atta-Mills for his peaceful ‘Dzi wo fie asem’ policy on Cote d’Ivoire and criticized the Nana Akufo-Addo led opposition NPP for pushing a wrong George W. Bush style “democracy-at-a-barrel-of-a-gun” policy. Since my publication, many commentators have tried to read the wrong motives into my article without often considering the substance of my position. Millions of Ghanaian lives are at stake so unless the threat to war is credible, simply making bellicose declarations rather than accelerating negotiations, makes the player with the most to lose intransigent.

The decision taken by African Heads of State at the 28-30 January African Union summit meeting in Addis Ababa, has made the wisdom of President Atta-Mills policy even more evident. In the Communiqué released by the Peace & Security Council of the African Union, the phrase “military force” – which the Akufo-Addo led NPP became so fixated in the past few weeks is NO where to be found. Why? While the phrase was introduced by the December 24 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Communiqué, the continental body, the African Union, an international organisation superior to ECOWAS, but of which all ECOWAS states are also members, after much consultations, and after reading the report of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, decided deliberately not to threaten immediate military force when all other peaceful diplomatic measures has not been yet exhausted. President Atta-Mills peaceful position which the Akufo-Addo-led NPP maligned in Ghana gained continental applause in Addis Ababa when the AU essentially adopted the ‘Ghana position’ – by favoring a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire and eschewing the threat of military force. The AU Communique PSC/AHG/COMM(CCLIX) titled ‘COMMUNIQUE OF THE 259th MEETING OF THE PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL essentially reflects President Atta-Mills policy stance and states inter alia that, “ in light of the above, to put in place, under the authority of the African Union, a High?Level Panel for the resolution of the crisis, in conditions which preserve democracy and peace. Council decides that the Panel, whose composition will be finalized, following appropriate consultations, during the 16th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, scheduled to take place on 30 and 31 January 2011, shall operate as follows: a) the Panel will be supported by a team of experts and will work, when necessary, in close cooperation with partners of the AU, particularly the United Nations, b) the Panel is mandated to evaluate the situation and formulate, on the basis of the relevant decisions of the AU and ECOWAS, an overall political solution, c) the Panel will conclude its work within a period not exceeding one month and its conclusions, which will be endorsed by Council, will be binding on all the Ivorian parties with which these conclusions would have been negotiated.”

The Akufo-Addo led NPP has recently come out to attempt to explain that by supporting the use of ‘legitimate military force’ it was not really supporting war. What then was it supporting? What does the NPP claim to be the real difference between their position and that of the NDC government, if they do not wish to threaten war on Cote d’Ivoire?? Why will the Akufo-Addo led NPP bypass Ghana’s separate genuine sovereign concerns about the use of military force in Cote d’Ivoire and organize a whole press conference to say that it supports the use of force, when it now claims it was simply a tactic to scare incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.

Yes, in the past I have respectfully disagreed with some of the decisions of President Atta-Mills, as most Ghanaians also do from time to time. However, contrary to the NPP’s hopes, I am not a permanent critic of the NDC government. If a government’s action shows courage and wisdom, it should be commended. For some NPP spokesmen to asperse me and surmise that I am seeking a post with President Atta-Mills misses the whole point. By the Grace of God, I am still gainfully and busily employed as Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications (CTO) in London, and while I have voluntarily decided to forgo a re-appointment for a 3rd term, I am more than happy with the various domestic and international roles I currently play. I am not lobbying for any appointment by the President, and have never done so in the past. And if I wished to seek for such an appointment, I would not do so through newspaper articles.

President Mills is being advised on his military options by seasoned advisors such as Minister of Defense, Gen. Henry Smith, a former Commander of the Ghana Army; General Nunoo-Mensah, a two-time Chief of Defense Staff and now National Security Advisor; Col. Gbevlo Lartey, a highly respected military officer and National Security Coordinator, (who has not run away from his country as did the NPP’s National Security Capo, Francis Poku, while on active duty); and above all by three-times Head of State, Flt Ltd (Rtd) Jeryy John Rawlings. Who is advising Akufo Addo and the NPP on Ghana’s military affairs?? Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey? NPP Please Come Again!

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By Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Ambassador to the USA & Mexico