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Opinions Mon, 31 Jan 2011

President’s “Dzi Wo Fie Asem” Mantra!!

The Looming Cataclysm in La Cote d’Ivoire and the President’s “Dzi Wo Fie Asem” Mantra!!

That Ghana has always been a beacon of hope, strength and an example of a firm leadership on the continent of Africa and especially, West African sub-region cannot be denied. Dating back to pre and post independence, Ghana has always led the way and has given unshakeable belief to other countries on the continent. Ghana was at the forefront during the struggle for independence and contributed moral, financial and logistic support to other countries to fight for freedom from the shackles of colonialism. It’s well documented that a country like Republic of Guinea benefitted immensely from Ghana’s financial support. Likewise, organisations like ANC and SWAPO enjoyed both financial and moral support from Ghana. This assured, firm, consistent and decisive leadership is what Nkrumah showed during his days at the helms of Ghana which endeared him to a host of other African countries. In recent times, former President Rawlings played his part in Liberia and Sierra Leone; as former President Kuffuor did same in Kenya; continuing Ghana’s tradition of strong and decisive leadership on the continent.

A firm, assured and decisive leadership appears to be what the West African sub-region needs right now following the impasse in La Cote d’Ivoire. Ouattara’s electoral victory in November 2010 was confirmed by the country’s electoral commission and has been given the seal of approval by the United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS; yet Gbagbo refuses to handover power. The same Gbagbo who illegally occupied his office for 5 long years as he kept postponing elections in that country! His intransigence confounds the most ardent of his supporters and for me; any one who tries to appease him is either a coward or damn liar! It is said that Ouattara won about 56% of the elections as against the 44% by Gbagbo. The latter’s strong-headed refusal to handover power has created an unnecessary tension in that country. Gbagbo’s foolhardiness and the concomitant looming cataclysm necessitated the convening of an emergency session of ECOWAS heads of states on the 24th of December 2010 which ended with the signing of a communiqué that the Community “………will use all available peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve the impasse……. In the event of all peaceful and diplomatic means failing; military force will be applied to remove Laurent Gbagbo from office……..” Our President, Prof Mills was at this meeting and happily appended his signature to this communiqué in continuing the tradition of decisive leadership the Nkrumahs, Rawlingses and Kuffuors made available to the continent. I want my readers to bear in mind that the communiqué never considered the use of military force as the first option because the collective wish of the leaders is to avoid bloodshed in La Cote d’Ivoire. It is therefore shocking for the President and his apologists to create the impression that the rest of the leaders in the sub-region are all blood-thirsty vampires who want to go to war except our “asomdwee hene” Mills?

The import of the ECOWAS communiqué is intended to isolate, pressurise, alienate and coerce Gbagbo to peacefully handover power. It is therefore so unfortunate to see President Mills break ranks with his peers to make a statement at the press soiree held at castle; that Ghana does not support the military option because our military are overstretched. The President further opined that there are about 2 million Ghanaians in La Cote d’Ivoire and therefore joining in any military forays might put the lives of those Ghanaians at risk. Then in another breath, the President said that he is guided in his decision not to join in any military action in La Cote d’Ivoire by a Fante expression that says; “Dzi wo fie asem”, which literally translates as “be concerned with matters affecting your household”, and thereby losing the actual stance of Ghana on the military option. As matters stand now, apart from the President and his pathetic fanatics, the rest of the country and indeed the international community have no clue as to what Ghana’s stance is. No one knows whether we wouldn’t join in the military option because of the lives of Ghanaians in La Cote d’Ivoire; or that we simply want to “dzi” our “fie asem”! So which of the reasons should we believe? The President danced a different tune with his peers and came home to do an entirely different one for Ghanaians. President Mills’ statements are loaded with a lot of ambiguities and the incongruity of his stance now vis-à-vis the communiqué he signed on 24th December 2010 is there for even the blind to see (or should I say, for the deaf to hear?). For me that is a mark of a weak leader; a sign of a leader who cannot make up his mind!! Even more confusing was when the President Mills retreated from his earlier postulations with senior editors to toe the line of ECOWAS once again when he met Raila Odinga. The Kenyan Prime Minister issued a statement to the media after their meeting that President Mills reiterated his commitment to the ECOWAS communiqué. Only God knows those the President seeks to appease with his seeming indecision and apparent fox-trotting. President Mills is shadow-boxing on a serious issue and that mutative posture is at variance with the track record of Ghana on matters like these.

The leaders of ECOWAS aren’t calling for war! They are not even implying it!! What they are calling for is a united, firm and principled stance against an injustice being perpetrated against 56% of Ivorian electorates who voted for Alasanne Ouattara. ECOWAS is calling for a godly stance against a self-serving power-drunk who is prepared to sacrifice the blood of poor Ivorians just to stay in office. It is unambiguously clear in the communiqué that the military option is the last resort so let no one waste our ears with infantile analogies. In any case, people are being killed in La Cote d’Ivoire on daily basis right from the very moment Gbagbo’s agents stopped the country’s electoral commission from announcing the results of the elections. The lame excuse that Ghanaians in La Cote d’Ivoire would die if military force is used does not wash. Are we saying that if the whole sub-region decide to use force and we opt out of it that would save the lives of Ghanaians in Cote d’Ivoire? Another question to ponder over is this: What if the 56% of Ivorians who voted for Ouattara interpret the blatant indecision of our President to mean a tacit support for Gbagbo and seek revenge by attacking Ghanaians in that country? Would Ghanaians not die then? How about this: What if Ouattara’s supporters attack Ghanaians in the event of the former being installed as the President of La Cote d’Ivoire for lack of support from President Mills during their time of need? All I am saying is that, should the use of force become the only available option, Ghanaians in Cote d’Ivoire are likely to be affected whether we contribute troops or not. The President should stop pussy-footing around the issue and get on with it. He should stick to the communiqué that bears his signature and ask Ghanaian residents in La Cote d’Ivoire to come back home until the situation normalises. There were hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians in Liberia when Ghana stood shoulder with Nigeria in days of ECOMOG. Ghana contributed troops and logistics to ECOMOG which dealt with the Liberian issue at the time.

It’s so appalling to see ignoramuses and gaping sycophantic lapdogs desperately trying to impugn the communiqué issued by the ECOWAS in their desperate attempt to make President Mills the only sane voice in the entire sub-region. When you hear people like Koku Anyidoho, Allotey Jacobs and Kwesi Pratt speak about this matter on radio it makes you wonder whether objectivity has any place in their vocabulary. For someone like Allotey Jacobs, a board member of ECG to say on “Peacefm” that the Ivorians may “attack our oilfields” in the event of Ghana joining any military action against them is preposterous and absolute bunkum! What makes the likes of Allotey Jacob presume that the supporters of Ouattara would not equally “attack our oilfields” for tacitly supporting Gbagbo anyway? It’s comments like these which has cast clouds of doubts over the hocus-pocus stance of our President on the matter. Koku Anyidoho, Kwesi Pratt and Allotey Jacobs may put a spin on the Presidents words for all I care but let it be told that all they are doing is to expose the President’s lack of boldness and decisiveness. Let it be known also that the President’s spin doctors are making his stance appear even more hazier and makes mockery of Ghana’s image in the eyes of the international community.

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi