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Opinions of Sunday, 6 March 2011

Columnist: Akyeampon, Nana A. D.

Africa Failing The Ivorian Test - The Role President Mills Played And Scored.

“Diplomats were invented to waste time” David Lloyd George

It's been three months, a sovereign nation is without a functional government, diplomacy, we are told, is's already a lost cause! The window for diplomacy after 3 months, is gone in my opinion. What is left now is for Gbagbo to now entrench and forcefully legitimise his regime , expand and intensify the empty propaganda...step up the violence and killings and in due course, may gain the support of the masses and eventually the worst would be to share power. Sometimes justice, they say, delayed is denied.

Several news outlets are now confirming the fears of the UN general secretary of the possibilities of a civil war ....and our leaders are still 'talking' - no action yet after three months of disputes. Our African leaders have failed us again, that we really still can't figure out yet exactly what we want for our people and our land. The idea of who won the elections is absolutely not in doubt except by Gbagbo and his cohorts and we should not waste any time at all addressing who won the Ivorian elections. All the spins doubting Ouattara's win of the elections are nothing but baseless propaganda.

ECOWAS took a solid decision to resort to the use of legitimate force to force Gbagbo out of power should diplomatic efforts to get him to cede power fail. Ghana was a signatory to this noble idea. Diplomacy is however said to work best when both sides are aware of the worst possible consequences should the talks fail. This idea has always served as a psychological buffer in driving various diplomatic talks to the usually desired results and in this case the intended military action appropriately served this purpose. To this end, any deliberate attempt to undermine the military option effectively undermines the efficacy of the diplomatic talks. Just as the talks were gathering momentum with Military officials strategising on the best way forward,...ENTERED PRESIDENT ATTA MILLS OF GHANA.

"Dzi wofie asem"

As if actually chosen to undermine the diplomatic talks itself which was meant to get Gbagbo out of power, President Mills deliberately and UNNECESARILY, decided to say all the wrong and NEEDLESS things to undermine and weaken the efforts being made and the result is the civil war about to break out and the strengthening of Gbagbo and his forces. I will never want to believe President Mills has any solid support for Gbagbo per se to remain in power but it beats my imagination to realise if he indeed wanted Gbagbo to cede power as enshrined in the ECOWAS communiqué, then how did the President think what he said would advance the ouster efforts ECOWAS was pursuing, of which he claims to support.

Was this necessary? UN troops go for peacekeeping missions in the name of UN but the troops do not necessarily come from ALL UN nations! If ECOWAS decides to send troops to la Cote divoire and Ghana thinks it's Military can't be part, it won't matter much! The most important thing would be the fact that Ghana supports the use of legitimate force in the name of ECOWAS and the statistics as to how many troops each ECOWAS member sent or did not send would be needless. It was absolutely unnecessary for Prez Mills to say what he said; he only succeeded in weakening the front and the efforts of military officials creating a crack in the collective front especially at a time when he did not even know the nature of the operation.


Prez Mills believed not supporting Military action would make Ghanaians in Ivory Coast 'loved' by both sides so much they would be spared should the worst happen. That was quite sad. Thousands of Ivorians not belonging to any sides at all, in fact even non voters and minors are fleeing the country for their own safety, some already dead. What actually made President Mills think his muteness would make Ghanaians better loved and spared than the native Ivorians who are being killed and made to flee beats my imagination.


History will confirm that a number of bloodless military operations have been employed to remove leaders peacefully in what is sometimes called Palace coups. The military officials had not even decided yet on the exact operation and tactics to be employed to reach the asserted goals even though the mere idea of them grouping with stated goals and the desire to carry out a military action had in itself a certain positive impact in directing the course of the diplomatic talks to get Gbagbo out. Yet, again Prez Mills threw caution to the wind and made premature statements that had the opposite effect.


Just as the President's goofs were beginning to bite, we were told Ghana has more troops protecting OUATTARA and that was supposed to suggest that the statements Prez Mills made were not meant to support Gbagbo, and that Ghana still stands by the ECOWAS communique. Big fallacy! When UN asks for troops for an operation, the donating country does not exercise any control as to where their troops must be stationed and Ghana was no exception. It's entirely up to the UN command on the ground to decide the specific stationing of troops as and when necessities on the ground demand. Ghana had absolutely no control to demand that we Support Ouattara so station our troops to protect him, so the idea of having more Ghanaian troops around Ouattara's hotel wasn't the making of President MIlls and therefore will not exonerate the President from the suspected Gbagbo-oriented spins he made in addition to the one-sided state-sponsored journalism where Kwesi Pratt, Adom-Otchere and Raymond Archer tried 'spinning' for Gbagbo. But one sad propaganda gained roots - that the military option was no option at all.

Against this background that theAfrican Union/ECOWAS can't truly bite after all, what then was supposed to get Gbagbo out? This is how we got to where we are after three months of negotiations. Many other leaders, inspired by President Mills' indiscretion spoke out in support of Gbagbo and may hopefully do same when it's time for them to leave power. If Gbagbo remains in power, what would motivate the Kibakis and Mugabes and other incumbents elsewhere in other African elections to leave power? Mr Kofi Annan warned last week that Gbagbo should not be allowed to remain in power because of the bad precedence this will create. Mr Annan seems to have forgotten that what Gbagbo is doing is simply following the Precedence he Mr Annan himself led the AU to create in Kenya with that infamous Power sharing idea between Odinga and Kibaki.

Even though Nana Akuffo Addo stated the obvious sentiments, I find his delivery a bit tactless. However his case is forgivable as it's coming from an opposition leader and not the President of the land. Not surprisingly however, President Mills recanted and took a different stand to support ECOWAS should the need to use force arise even though he may not contribute troops. The harm had already been caused and President Mills scored big time - demoralisation of the military efforts, breaking the heart of the collective resolve, disappointing the desire of the masses for peace and ultimately getting us where we are now. We talked of "dzi wo fi asem" after sending as much as $3million to Haiti to help with rescue efforts and yet fumble with mere verbal support to what we have already signed? Africa has truly failed again-we've let down the Ivorians. A real setback for Africa.

Author: Nana A.D . Akyeampon