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Major General Blasts Coups as Democratic Betrayal in West Africa

Forum Discusses Solutions to Strengthen Democracy, Tackle Root Causes

by Adenike Adeodun

In an era where democracy’s resilience is increasingly tested, the recent policy dialogue forum organized by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) provided a vital platform for addressing the decline of democratic governance in West Africa. At the forefront of this crucial conversation was Major General Richard Addo-Gyane, Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), who unequivocally condemned military coups as a profound betrayal of democratic principles, regardless of the incumbent government’s popularity or lack thereof.

The dialogue, featuring distinguished speakers and attendees such as the Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh, and the US Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Palmer, tackled the complex and multifaceted challenges facing democracy in the region. The resurgence of coup d’états since 2020, as highlighted by Maj. Gen. Addo-Gyane, raises significant concerns about the underlying factors contributing to this anti-democratic trend and the essential strategies required to fortify democratic institutions.

Central to the discussions was the critical examination of the winner-takes-all political system, with Maj. Gen. Addo-Gyane advocating for a more inclusive approach that integrates diverse perspectives and experiences. This recommendation resonates with the broader theme of the forum: the urgent need to address the root causes of democratic backsliding, such as greed, corruption, and the marginalization of certain groups, which fuel public disillusionment and pave the way for anti-democratic forces to gain traction.

Moreover, the dialogue shed light on the role of disinformation in undermining democracy, as highlighted by Ambassador Palmer, who cited a study by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The alarming increase in disinformation campaigns, particularly in West Africa, underscores the sophisticated challenges that democracies face in the digital age, where state-sponsored efforts to erode trust in democratic institutions can significantly impact governance and public perception.

The insights from Professor Larry Diamond, a renowned democracy scholar, further emphasized the pernicious effects of corruption and abuse of power as catalysts for coups. Prof. Diamond’s call for strengthening democratic institutions through substantial investment and creating a robust economic and political environment speaks to the foundational measures necessary for sustainable democracy. His proposed solutions, including judicial constraints on authoritarian executives and legislative oversight, reflect a comprehensive approach to revitalizing democratic momentum globally.

The forum also touched upon the manipulation of constitutions to extend presidential tenures, a practice that Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh identified as a contributing factor to the region’s democratic challenges. This critical analysis points to the need for constitutional safeguards and genuine political will to ensure the integrity of democratic transitions and prevent the entrenchment of authoritarianism.

The policy dialogue hosted by CDD-Ghana emerges as a call to action for policymakers, civil society, and the international community to confront the threats to democracy with concerted efforts and innovative strategies. The insights and recommendations generated from this gathering underscore the imperative of nurturing inclusive, transparent, and accountable governance structures that can withstand the pressures of internal and external challenges.

As West Africa grapples with the resurgence of military coups and the erosion of democratic norms, the discussions at the CDD-Ghana forum offer a blueprint for reinvigorating democratic institutions and principles in the region. By addressing the root causes of democratic decline and reinforcing the mechanisms of accountability, transparency, and public participation, there is hope for reversing the current trends and securing a democratic future for West Africa. The dialogue not only highlights the complexities of the situation but also illuminates the path forward towards a more resilient and inclusive democracy.

Source: Graphic Online

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