By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
The news report under the heading “Ghana to deploy 850 soldiers to South Sudan” made it clear what President Mahama has agreed to do; and I am alarmed!!
Folks, I have already had my say on the deployment of Ghanaian troops to South Sudan and made it clear that I don't support anything of the sort, especially at the time that the situation is still unclear as to the real intentions of the rebels—to overthrow the Salva Kiir administration and install Riek Machar or to capture territories and form their own government.
The degeneration of the situation into a civil war is still threatening as President Kiir's Dinka ethnic group remains pitted against Machar's Nuer faction.
Negotiations begun in the Ethiopian capital have so far not given any firm hint that the hostilities will end soon for terms that may be agreed upon at the negotiation table to begin being implemented.
The government's forces have re-taken Bentiu in the Unity State and are marching on Bor in Jonglei State to attempt dislodging the rebels there. Meantime, it is unsure what is happening at Malakal, where the rebels have announced their over-running of government troops to re-take the town—a claim denied by a military spokesman for the government.
Peace is not in sight. Even though the US is doing some behind-the-scene work toward a political settlement of the conflict, neither President Kiir's government nor the rebels are listening to entreaties. They want a military solution, whose impact on South Sudan is anybody's guess.
You may want to read also this article by Mark Mardell of the BBC for more insights: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-25738492).
Now, President Mahama has confirmed my earlier fears that Ghana would be rushed into this conflict. He said on Tuesday that Ghana will contribute 850 troops to the war-torn South Sudan to help restore peace and stability to the North African country.
He said the deployment of the Ghana battalion to the restive country followed a request from the United Nations Secretary-General to Ghana to help in keeping the peace and assist with the humanitarian efforts.
President Mahama said so when Dr Tedros A. Ghebreyesus, Ethiopian Foreign Minister, called on him at the Flagstaff House, Kanda.
He indicated that the National Security Council met on Monday to ratify the troop deployment.
Here is something from him that makes me cringe: “When I received the request from the UN Secretary-General, I did not hesitate to give my provisional approval,” he added.
It is one thing for President Mahama to justify why he wants Ghana to deploy 850 troops to South Sudan (as he explained: "... as a young independent country that is facing development challenges, South Sudan needs stability to develop and not conflict.")
Do the political leaders of South Sudan not know the status of their country before pushing their person political ambitions ahead of national interests?
I am more concerned because this decision to send Ghanaian troops into that war zone was taken by the Executive (regardless of the involvement of the National Security Council which is nothing but an appendage of the Executive, though).
In such a serious situation, why has our Parliament not been involved? In other words, shouldn't the direct representatives of the people charged with oversight responsibilities play an important role in decision-making before anything rash is done to create more problems for the country?
You see, folks, our democracy is not growing at all. The United States President cannot push the country to that point without Congressional approval (even though an Act exists granting him some executive powers). Obama tried it in the case of Libya and had problems. Then, he learnt how not to side-step the people's representatives in making decisions of military importance without seeking approval from the direct representatives of the people.
Are we in Ghana really thinking hard about counter-balancing the forces that shape our country's destiny? I am not really surprised that the Executive won't involve Parliament because Parliament itself has proved to be grossly incompetent and useless at this point.
It is the tax-payer's money that supports Ghana Military and anything to involve the military must be thoroughly deliberated upon by all those that matter, particularly Parliament, which is where the direct representatives of the people (the real producers of the national wealth) are. No two ways about this!!
I am waiting to see how this issue pans out because I am still not convinced that rushing Ghana into this crisis in South Sudan is acceptable. I am waiting to know which other countries have been approached by the UN and what they are prepared to do; then, I will come up with more viewpoints.
But for now, I am highly disappointed!! Deploying Ghanaian troops in conflict zones should not be the sole prerogative of the President, more so when President Mahama's own utterance gave me the impression that he had a pre-meditated intention to send Ghanaian troops to South Sudan, which was why he didn't hesitate at all in accepting the request from the UN Secretary-General. Too bad for our democracy. I have said it and have no regrets for saying so.
I shall return…
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