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Ghana Armed Forces Should Resist Temptation to Intervene


At first glance, the statements – that a coup is imminent and the military is ready to step in – seem innocuous and easily dismissed as the rants of aggrieved party functionaries.  Scrutinized closely however, the assertions, by and large, point to the desperation that unfortunately characterizes our current political discourse.

Politicians of all hues feed at the public trough as if it was a right they have earned by virtue of being public servants. But graft and greed should not be the basis for the usurpation of power by a group that is very often ill-prepared to govern. Who in his/her right frame of mind would want the military to reassert itself as a political force?  Doesn’t the recent horrid past mean anything to the coup mongers?

There are some important historical facts worth remembering. The military coups in 1966, 1972 and 1981 were ghastly periods in the nation’s history for a host of reasons. Our genuine and honest attempts at democratic governance were abruptly and violently interrupted. And the country needlessly pushed to the brink of ethnic violence. The constitution was upended and the human rights of thousands of Ghanaians violated by rogue soldiers.

We nonetheless persevered, as one nation by keeping our ethnic emotions under check and forging ahead. It has certainly not been easy, but we have come a long way since then.  And despite the stumbles, our democracy has grown and flourished and invariably become the envy of many.

Our neighbors in the West African sub-region who have lived through devastating civil wars are in awe of our ability to avoid the many pitfalls that nearly doomed them. The international community has been equally effusive in its praise of our commitment to democratic principles.

The hope is that we will be the shining light on the hill in a neighborhood torn by violence and mayhem. On his maiden visit to Africa as President of the United States, Barack Obama singled out Ghana as a nation well on the path to democratic sustenance.

This is why talk of the Ghana military muscling its way onto the political scene once again clearly angered many well-meaning Ghanaians. They hate the very idea of seeing a uniformed general, colonel or major seizing a radio station and declaring themselves head of state and rank and file soldiers running amok and assaulting civilians with impunity.  

It was only recently that the army ran roughshod over the civilian population. The excesses of the Rawlings era, the sheer brutality and violence that were unleashed are firmly etched in the minds of Ghanaians.  That era and other preceding military putsches are painful reminders of why soldiers should not inject themselves into politics.

What prompted this psychobabble? Political miscalculation I presume, and coming as it were from operatives of the opposition party, it is classic political posturing.  Apparently still reeling from last year’s election debacle, the NPP would say and do anything to score political points and to unnerve jittery Ghanaians.

While it is true that progress has been painfully slow, and our national economy struggling mightily, a military intervention would be ill-timed and a misguided prescription for our current woes.  A poignant reminder; the global economy is in a funk  but nowhere have national armies risen up to depose elected civilian administrations. It will be foolhardy if the Ghana Armed Forces were to take the bait being dangled by unscrupulous and shameless politicians.

The army is without doubt, a significant cog in our society; since independence it has been very instrumental in the preservation of our territorial integrity and domestic tranquility. No one questions its professionalism which has earned it high marks abroad.  Ghanaian soldiers on international assignments with the United Nations Peace Keeping Force have consistently demonstrated unparalleled discipline and valor.

Staying from politics in the last two decades has enabled the army once vilified as trigger happy and prone to coups to cultivate a squeaky clean image.  I am sure the Ghana Armed Forces won’t want to jeopardize this hard-earned reputation.

Today, unlike 20 years ago, a military coup by a ragtag band of disgruntled khaki-clad soldiers is bound to provoke instant international condemnation and domestic disaffection.  The usurpers will become pariahs and deservedly so.  Given this scenario, it will be counterproductive to engage in the forceful removal of democratically elected governments. The ballot box should be the only means by which unpopular governments are shown the door.




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