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Americans: Nana Addo Is Desperate For Power

Sun, 15 Apr 2012 Source: The Herald

The emerging violence and chaotic scenes at the Biometric Registration

centers in many parts of the country appears to be confirming fears

expressed by a respected American organization; the Center for Strategic

and International Studies (CSIS) that the December 2012 presidential

election would be “violently contested”.

CSIS in a 19-page gloomy report mentioned in particular the desperation, on

the part of the 68-year old New Patriotic Party (NPP), presidential

candidate to be president of Ghana that could lead to chaos in the upcoming

elections.

“Akufo-Addo is desperate to mobilize support, by playing the ethnic card,

referring to the NPP as “We the Akans,” and urging his supporters to “all

die be die” -that is, they should be willing to die to ensure the NPP’s

victory,” the June 2011 report emphatically said.

From many parts of the Ashanti Region to next-door Brong Ahafo Region

across to Odododiodioo and Ablekuma South constituencies in the Greater

Accra Region, the Biometric Registration exercise has recorded violent

scenes, including the stabbing of a man at Tain and the shooting of an

11-year old boy in Kumasi.

These chaotic situations which have publicly been linked to Nana Addo’s

“all-die-be-die” violence mantra are vindicating the Americans who stated

that “a second, low-to-medium-probability but high-impact scenario would be

a violently contested presidential election in December 2012, which would

have the potential to produce chaos”.

The worrying report mentions Ghana’s oil find, as raising high the stakes

for the elections.

The report, a copy of which is in the possession of The Herald, stated “if

either party perceives a loss in 2012 to represent an existential threat,

then the loser may give in to the temptation to mobilize, or even merely

allow, a violent challenge to the election results. The result would likely

produce violence by unemployed youths, straining the loyalty of the army

and security services, and testing the independence of the judiciary”.

“The role of the NPP leader and expected presidential candidate, Nana

Akufo-Addo, will be crucial, and early signals suggest reason for worry.

Akufo-Addo is desperate to mobilize support, and he has played the ethnic

card, referring to the NPP as “We the Akans,” urging his supporters to “all

die be die” -that is, they should be willing to die to ensure the NPP’s

victory.

“If neither side is willing to accept defeat, then it is likely that rival

‘foot soldiers’ recruited from unemployed youth supporters of the NDC could

take to the streets of Accra and other urban centers and begin to fight.

Military intervention in any case remains highly unlikely, but it is not

impossible.

“Such an intervention, even if brief, would shatter Ghana’s reputation as a

stable democracy and discourage foreign direct investment, setting back

three decades of progress”, said the report.

CSIS is an organization which provides strategic insights and bipartisan

policy solutions to decision makers in government, international

institutions, the private sector, and civil society. It is a nonprofit

organization located in Washington D.C.

CSIS conducts research and analysis and develops policy initiatives that

look into the future and anticipate change. It was founded in 1962 by David

M. Abshire and Admiral Arleigh Burke at the height of the Cold War, and

dedicated to finding ways for America to sustain its prominence and

prosperity as a force for good in the world.

It has more than 220 full-time staff and a large network of affiliated

scholars focused on defense and security, regional stability, and

transnational challenges ranging from energy and climate to global

development and economic integration.

A former U.S. senator Sam Nunn became chairman of the CSIS Board of

Trustees in 1999, and John J. Hamre has led CSIS as its president and Chief

Executive Officer since 2000.

Below is what the damning CSIS said in its report.

The 2012 Elections

The risk of disorder in Ghana is significantly raised at election time,

when political passions are running high and competition for patronage is

at its most intense. The importance of the 2012 election as a potential

trigger of instability in Ghana cannot be overemphasized. Although the NDC

government currently enjoys the privilege of influencing the terms of the

oil revenue management bill, the winner in 2012 will claim a much bigger

prize: the chance to allocate oil revenues during the peak years of

production.

Both sides know that the ability to distribute patronage, jobs, and

infrastructural investment on a grand scale could sustain them in office

for the foreseeable future. As the incumbent, the NDC views victory in 2012

as an opportunity to shatter the two-party system and pull away from its

closest competitor.

The NPP, meanwhile, fears being left out in the cold and is desperate for

the chance to preside over the country’s economic boom.

Ghana had a lucky escape during the last presidential election in December

2008. The razor-thin failure of the NPP candidate, Nana Akufo- Addo, to win

the presidency on the first ballot (he missed out by less than 8,000 votes)

briefly tempted the NPP to hang on to power and challenge the official

results. In the hours following the election, then-president Kufuor played

a vital role in urging his NPP supporters to accept the need for a second

round.

When the NDC candidate, Atta-Mills, won the second round by the narrow

margin of 0.46 percent, President Kufuor again urged acceptance of the

result. But given that he is now in retirement, Kufuor is unlikely to be

able to exert a moderating influence in 2012. And the NPP hard-liners seem

to have seized control of the campaign.

Given the stakes involved, the 2012 election campaign is likely to be far

more confrontational and potentially violent. Paradoxically, Ghana’s

experiences with democratic transfers of power may actually contribute to

the animosity. Both parties have now had a chance to experience at least a

term in government and sample the spoils of power, including not only the

distribution of preferential access to political constituents and business

allies but also the opportunity to reverse the previous government’s

policies.

Each party has taken advantage of this opportunity: The NPP spent its first

two years in office in 2001-2003 righting the alleged mismanagement of the

economy by the NDC, but ended its term in 2007 – 2008 with a last-minute

spending and patronage spree, leaving the NDC government with serious

macroeconomic problems, including high inflation.

President Atta- Mills has worked hard to curb inflation, but it seems

highly unlikely as Ghana heads into its next election cycle that his civil

servants in the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank will be able to

resist the demands of NDC activists for a significant relaxation of

economic discipline. Meanwhile, the NPP has keenly felt the reduced

economic opportunities that come with being out of office.

There has already been a noticeable ratcheting up of political rhetoric in

advance of2012, with both parties accusing each other of corruption and

misconduct.

Mitigating Factors

The above-noted catalysts of instability are Significant both individually

and in combination but must be weighed

against the four key “shock absorbers” of Ghanaian society, which are more

robust than those in many neighboring countries.

First, Ghana has a vibrant and proud civil society. Its elite is well

educated, respectful, and cares deeply about the direction of the country.

The number of civil society organizations operating in Accra is a

reflection of the pride Ghanaians have in their democracy: Many of them

ardently pursue their role as government watchdogs and participate in a

robust debate.

Political discussion is not limited to elites; cab drivers, market traders,

and others participate in an almost constant dialogue about the state of

politics in Ghana. When all is on the line, many Ghanaians insist that they

would stop at nothing to protect the stability and integrity of their

country.

Second, the increasingly entrenched democratic tradition in Ghana, already

cited as a potential weakness, is also a source of strength. With each

successful multiparty election, the memory of military government recedes

further into

history, and the electorate grows increasingly committed to democratic

rule.

Roughly 80 percent of Ghanaians express confidence in their political

system, and 55 percent of them claimed in 2008 that they lived in a full

democracy, the highest proportion making such a claim anywhere in Africa.

Respect for the rule of law and freedom of opinion is widespread.

So, too, is the belief that even the president and the government are

subject to the law. And. few believe that the military will be tempted to

intervene in political affairs, despite the fact that they experienced 20

years of military rule in their first 35 years of independence.

Third, Ghana’s economic institutions, especially the Bank of Ghana, are

highly professional and internationally well respected. Its financial

technocrats seem well trained to manage the economic consequences of the

advent of oil and to keep “Dutch Disease” under control – If politicians

can resist the temptation to co-opt the process.

Fourth and finally, Ghana’s Constitution is under review for the first time

since 1992, and the review process is already sparking a spirited debate.

In the long term, a strengthened Constitution could redress important

structural weaknesses in Ghana’s political system. However, at this early

stage the prospects of meaningful reform remain unclear; the powerful

presidency is unlikely to give up its “imperial” powers without a struggle.

Scenarios

What awaits Ghana in the next decade? In the near term, much will depend on

whether the two main parties can overcome the potential flashpoint of the

2012 election. Beyond that, much will depend on the ability of the winner

to manage the country’s oil-producing economy, provide jobs for its young

people, rein in its patronage system, and protect its fragile institutions

from the pernicious influence of the drug trade.

Endogenous Growth

Under a plausible but optimistic scenario, changes in the age structure of

the population would stimulate economic growth. One prominent development

expert has suggested that the likely expansion of Ghana’s productive age

cohort during the next 40 years will generate endogenous demand, ensuring

growth of at least 5 percent a year,” Oil revenue, wisely invested or

spent, could transform that to 8 or even 10 percent by raising investment

to 40 to 50 percent of GDP. By African standards, Ghana is well placed to

take off into self-sustained growth and to expand both its agricultural and

manufacturing sectors.

Sensible investment on roads and other infrastructural projects in the

Greater Accra Region would further promote economic growth. Ghana’s coastal

urban belt is likely to continue to grow rapidly, attracting migrants from

the northern Savanna regions and from Burkina Faso. In the past, the

country’s development has suffered from urban bias.

This is likely to continue, but the area immediately to the north of the

coastal cities in the rain forest zone has the potential to become the food

granary of the new West African megalopolis that is likely to stretch from

Douala in Cameroon to Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, if not beyond, and that

thus will envelop all of Ghana’s coastal towns and cities.

Further north, the Savanna could grow rice and vegetables for the expanding

urban population, providing an incentive for the local population to remain

in place as prosperous farmers rather than move to the coastal cities.

These processes could be facilitated by the careful expenditure of oil

revenues to construct new rail links and roads, especially the secondary

and tertiary roads that bring produce from the rural countryside to the

towns. More to come!

Columnist: The Herald