President Nana Akufo-Addo has urged the international community to send a clear message to coup plotters that coups have never been, and will never be durable solutions to Africa’s political, economic and security challenges.
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.”
Delivering 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, on Friday, 17th February 2024, he stated that “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.”
Quoting from the 2019 Annual Risk of Coup Report, he indicated that Africa has experienced more coup d’états than any other continent, which, he said, is “an unsavoury statistic”.
Citing the case of Ghana, President Akufo-Addo noted that political instability described much of the early decades of the nation’s life as an independent nation, and Ghana became notorious for sampling every and any type of political experiment.
“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 2nd 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.
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 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 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.