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Government Contingency Plans, the Military and the 2012 Elections

Sun, 27 Mar 2011 Source: Amponsah, John

By John Amponsah

If the government of Ghana is not already doing so or if the government is not doing enough then now is the time to make serious contingency plans to avoid being pulled into a wider conflict that could spew out of Cote d'Ivoire. Our position should remain one of defence, that is, monitoring the influx of refugees and avoiding a situation where foreigners could use Ghanaian territory to provide military support for either faction in the conflict.

This article is about why and how both the government and the people of Ghana need to protect the current (relatively) peaceful environment of Ghana as our neighbouring country gets closer to full scale war.

Recently I read in the news that Gbagbo is arming young men. This to me signals a likely plunge into full scale civil war once again. You can be sure that Ouattara’s side is doing the same. We should take measures to avoid this conflict spilling into Ghana so the government’s role is not only humanitarian (refugee management) but also there are intelligence and military dimensions involved.

It will surprise me greatly if the government of Ghana is not already collecting military intelligence on the developments in Cote d'Ivoire. This to me seems basic so there should be no doubt that it is taking place. Perhaps the government’s plan to return military hardware from Chad is part of this defensive preparation.

Many times we have seen African military and paramilitary forces from one country getting pulled into political disagreements and subsequent turmoil in another country. We need to avoid having this situation in Ghana. Recently Kenyan forces went into Somalia to fight Al-Shabab after the latter allegedly caused trouble in Kenya. One could easily cite other historical examples from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to mention some. If Ghana has its act together, potential problems can be prevented before they lead to further trouble.

I believe Ghana has the ability to manage the situation along the border with Cote d’Ivoire to avoid having that conflict affect us in a negative way.

For this reason, we need a military that is loyal to the people of Ghana and committed to defending the country. Which brings me to an important question: Are our military forces really independent enough to avoid taking sides in a political disagreement between the major political parties? Are they with the people of Ghana or with political parties? This is a question which all conscientious citizens have to think about. If the answer is NO then military leaders need to start thinking hard about where their priorities lie and the people of our country need to strengthen our resolve not to allow politics to lead us into a destructive conflict. We do not need it.

Now is the time to sink these issues and questions into our consciousness before our own elections arrive in 2012.

It is best for us as a country to avoid getting into any situation that could lead to political turmoil in our (relatively) peaceful country. Why? Because we are at a stage in our development where we need to keep going forward in order to improve upon the gains made up to this point. For this to be the case, Ghana needs all intelligent, brave and bold patriots to remain steadfast and aware. We need to continue to have a good flow of information of what is happening in the country.

On the part of the people, in my view this is not the time to get into any preposterous conflicts with ourselves. I would like to call on all well meaning Ghanaians to keep their guard up and to ensure that we maintain the free flow of information before, during and after the 2012 elections. "People power" will always remain the strongest power but only when 'the people' claim this power that is due them and are responsible with it. These coming elections are all the more important because of the presence of our destabilized neighbouring country. It is a situation that calls for discernment, extra calm and good sense from Ghanaians to ensure that our election event happens without problems.

I imagine that 2012 will be a very important year for the political history of Ghana. Since the birth of the fourth republic, the country has experienced an NDC government and an NPP government. We once again have an NDC government. Regardless of whether president Mills stays on or whether another individual becomes president, what all of us should remember is that politicians work for the people and not the other way around. The people however are responsible for ensuring that government remains "for the people, by the people". We cannot allow anyone or any political party or parties to lead to the downfall of the country. For this all intelligent, brave and bold souls must be vigilant. The power must remain with the people. Forward ever!

The last thing Ghana needs right now is a politically and socially destabilized environment resulting from bitter disagreements between political parties. In such a situation, outside forces could try to take advantage, coming in to serve their own interests. Good sense should always prevail. It is not only up to the two main political parties or any other political parties to ensure that we remain a peaceful country. It is really up to everyone.

2012, here we come! I would like to see Ghana continue to progress forward! Let us make this remain the case.

Columnist: Amponsah, John