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Opinions of Sunday, 9 March 2008

Columnist: Kweifio-Okai, Nii Armah

Reflections on Annan’s Kenya success / NOW Ghana

1. What Former UN SG Kofi Annan Esq achieved in Kenya

- Mbaki President, Odinga to become PM

- Two deputy PMs, one from Government, other from Opposition

- Even number of ministries, to be shared equally between Opposition and Government.

2. What could have been achieved

- Ministerial positions allotted as part of Annan package, to avoid disputes over who gets what emerging as flash points for resumption of conflict.

- Both parties to committing themselves to new elections at half the lifetime of the current elected parliament.

- According to Lucas Amuri of Okyeame forum, the deal also involved long term issues of land and electoral reform, a new constitution to address inequality, and eventually a truth and reconciliation process. It is my view that the tension between the parties would not allow comprehensive and honest discussion of the issues mentioned by Lucas. An elected Government, with a peoples’ mandate, can pursue those issues more comprehensively and successfully. At present no Kenyan party has a mandate to govern Kenya, the essence of the current dispute and compromise. Election mid term, when passions have been cooled and sustained somewhat, would provide that mandate. My views are influenced by the scale of the post election tsunami - 1500 dead andover half million Kenyans homeless.

3. World reports/reactions

- The world never thought the disputed elections would result in the scale of turmoil we have witnessed. When the immediate post-election protests began, the world thought it would fizzle out in no time. The US and Museveni of Uganda recognised Mbaki immediately after the disputed elections results were announced but the EU election observers brought them to earth prompto. The Us is made diplomatic amends, Uganda did not.

- Major of UK urged the AU to be involved in peace negotiations in Kenya, when regional moves were already under way. It appeared only the former UN SG could deliver. He has since delivered.

- The world’s reaction to Annan’s success has not been as effusive as I expected. May be, there is anxiety over how long the deal would hold. Annan’s own appeal to Kenyan civil society to ensure the deal held, may have underscored the widespread anxiety. My reservations about excluding from the package the distribution of the ministries among the two parties, and silence over the length of the current Kenya Parliament, may therefore be justified.

4. Lessons for Ghana

- Two years before the Kenya elections, the Odinga group visited Australia. Their message then, and after, to election day was that they would not accept a rigged election. Their posture was no different from Ghana's NPP of 1998 and the NDC of today.

- The NDC is already pointing to worrying trends on the horizon as we approach the general elections end of this year. One complaint is that, in this electoral year, the electoral register would be opened mid year, rather than early in the year as in previous election years. Another complaint relates to a bloated electoral register in a Government stronghold e.g. see http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=140123

- Prof Mills, the NDC Presidential candidate, conceded defeat immediately after the 2000 and 2004 elections. Had he hesitated on each occasion, in the light of electoral shortcomings, Ghana would have witnessed public disturbances of uncertain outcomes. Yet he is not being credited with that magnanimity. As a result, the NDC opposition, which grudgingly accepted the wisdom of the Asomdwehene on each occasion, are now questioning whether it was all worth it.

- Sam Asante of Okyeame Forum wrote thus: “ --- one real lesson from the Kenyan crises is those who see democracy as a complete panacea for Africa's governance misery is that: there is an inbuilt assumption that elections will be fair and incumbent and opposition alike will accept victory and defeat. What happens if they don’t?”

- I suspect Kenya is closer to Ghana than we think or imagine is the case. Kofi Annan, our illustrious son, must devote the next few months to identifying, and helping to hose down, potential flash points of conflict in this year’s Ghana elections - especially those non Government party contestants see as potential flash points. It will save our illustrious son Kofi Annan the bother of repeating, in his current retirement, the Kenya diplomacy in Ghana.

The author is a native of Ghana and member of the NkrumaistForum

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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