We intervened in The Gambia to entrench democracy — Akufo-Addo

General News of Saturday, 29 April 2017

Source: graphic.com

2017-04-29

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has described the decision of Ghana and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene in The Gambian crisis as a vindication of a growing consensus for the entrenchment of democratic values on the continent.

He said his decision to offer support to The Gambia was to ensure that the processes of democratic consolidation in the region did not suffer a setback when the will of the people had made a clear choice for change.

“If we had just sat down and watched, then the democratic process in the country would have suffered a setback by an outgoing President,” the President said.

President Nana Akufo-Addo said this when The Gambian President, Mr Adama Barrow, called on him at the Flagstaff House as part of a day’s working visit to the country yesterday.

The main purpose of the visit was to thank President Akufo-Addo and the people of Ghana for the support they provided towards the restoration of democracy and order in The Gambia.

The Gambian crisis

In the early days of his administration, President Nana Akufo-Addo took a decision to contribute 200 Ghanaian troops to an ECOWAS Force that was formed to help restore order in The Gambia when the former President of that country, Mr Yahya Jammeh, refused to relinquish power after losing the general election to Mr Barrow.

The President said the situation in The Gambia also offered the opportunity for ECOWAS to act as a unit with a collective purpose and objective.

“Finally, the fact that at the end of the day, the combination of diplomacy and the strength of the military resulted in the peaceful resolution of the crisis and brought you to power means that the actions that ECOWAS took with the support of some of us make that decision vindicated by history, and you have become a symbol of all of that,” he added.

Ghana, the President said, was committed to continuing on the path of democratic accountability, adding “our people have indicated on several occasions, in the last generation, how attached they are to the principles of democratic values and democratic accountability.”

Free political institutions

He said Ghana considered Mr Barrow and the people of The Gambia as good friends who were fighting the same cause.

“We are going to develop our nations under free political institutions, giving the right to our people to decide at every stage, who or who should not govern them in a peaceful and dignified manner,” he added.

For his part, President Barrow said his visit was to thank the President for his contribution to the restoration of democracy in The Gambia.

Appreciation for support

“I came to visit you as a President, brother and friend. Basically, we all came at the same time. We all contested the elections at the same time as opposition and defeated incumbents. But in Ghana, the former President opted to hand over power gracefully, but in my own country, we opted for games.

“You intervened in the situation in The Gambia to defend democracy, you intervened to defend the truth, and I believe Africa has gone very far now because the problem was an African problem and the solution was an African solution and that is a credit to all Africans,” President Barrow said.

He said he was of the firm belief that Africa could not move forward without the principle of democracy, adding “we contested the elections based on this principle and we would continue to advocate that same principle.”

Gambians to learn

President Barrow expressed the hope that the relationship between the two countries would continue to flourish, adding that Ghana had gone far in its achievements and that Gambians were prepared to learn from Ghanaians.

President Barrow said there were a number of reforms that ought to take place in The Gambia after 22 years of transition which had seen the pollution of the system and was, therefore, soliciting the help of ECOWAS to continue to help to entrench democracy in that country.

“You cannot function as a government if you do not have security and that is paramount so as a brother and a friend, that is the message,” he said.

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