Victor Gbeho: Poor democratic transitions result into antagonism

By Amadu Kamil Sanah/Julius K. Satsi, GNA

Accra, Nov. 15, GNA – Mr James Victor Gbeho, President of the Economic Community of West African States has said the instances of failures in the management of democratic transitions on the African continent were causes of primitive antagonism among ethnic groups.

“Most Post-independent constitutions have not adequately addressed the manifestations of
Kamil Sanah/Julius K. Satsi, GNA Accra, Nov. 15, GNA – Mr James Victor Gbeho, President of the Economic Community of West African States has said the instances of failures in the management of democratic transitions on the African continent were causes of primitive antagonism among ethnic groups. “Most Post-independent constitutions have not adequately addressed the manifestations of ethnocentrism,” he said.

He said no African country was spared with regards to ethnic conflicts, and that this has become a shame both historically and culturally to most African countries factors, which democracy on the continent must grapple with to ensure constitutional governance. Mr Gbeho was speaking at the launch of the Centre for Democratic Transitions, Ghana (CDT-Ghana), a Ghanaian-based International Think Tank, that seek to focus on political transitions globally.

The launch was on the theme: “Democracy and Decentralisation: Utilising knowledge and experience to facilitate orderly democratic transitions.”

The CDT-Ghana mandate include; advisory services on the organisation of transition from one constitutional government to another constitutional government formed by a different party, advisory
services on organisation of transitions from military government to a civilian, constitutional government, advisory services on transitions from centralized systems of administration to decentralised systems of administration and advisory services on Public Sector Reforms generally. “It will also focus on capacity building and training for newly elected Members of Parliament, Houses of Representatives and
Senates and for newly appointed political office holders.” He said Africans who are not politically matured, were more likely to result to ethnic cajole for their protection and advantage,” adding that the importance of appropriate education or orientation could not be over-emphasised.” Mr Gbeho said Ghanaians were lucky to have inherited the legacy of Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, whose government when threatened by ethnic, regional and religious divisions in Northern Ghana stood firm against party politics that ratified religious and ethnic sentiments.

The ECOWAS President said ethnocentrism or tribalism was not only peculiar to African countries alone, but also exists in This, he said was a phase in the development of human society, which happened for the sake of self-preservation and the avoidance of domination of one tribe by another.

Nana Ato Dadzie, the Executive Coordinator of CDT-Ghana, said the Centre was in a position to advise on ministerial realignments, civil service reforms, capacity building, incentive-packaging and advising on an effective interface between central and local governments. He said members of the CDT-Ghana have worked on international political transition programmes in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and The Gambia, as technical transition consultants and have accumulated tremendous experiences in dealing with political transitions both locally and internationally, adding, “the members have been part of the four major transitions Ghana has ever had,” he said. Nana Ato Dadzie said due to the long periods of one-party systems and military rule, many African countries lacked experiences in peaceful constitutional transitions. “Several countries including; the Republic of South Africa, Uganda, Togo and Zimbabwe have no experience of such transitions and are likely to run into the problems Ghana faced when it had to deal with such transitions in 1993, 2001, and to a lesser extent in 2009 and 2016,” he

He said: “Once firmly established, CDT-Ghana will invite similarly experienced members of registered political parties to join the Centre and also establish an International Board of Advisors
comprising African and other International personalities with experience and expertise in its area of mandate to advise it.” Mr Thomas Kwesi Quartey, the Vice President of the Africa Union, said the examples of Ghana’s democratic practice were emulated by many African countries, adding that, “Ghana has a lot to be proud of in terms of democracy and applauded the establishment of the Centre.” Mr Alban Sumana Bagbin, the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said the Centre was just a formalization of what Ghana was already, that is, “a nation characterised with peaceful democratic transitions.” Mr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Democratic Governance said the Centre would help in salvaging cases of unrest in many countries and that what was happening in Togo and many other African countries were direct causes of poor handling of democratic transitions.

Mr Francis Tshegah, also a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana, said although Ghana had done a lot in terms of democratic practices, more needed to be done, saying, “Our
democracy cannot survive if we don’t handle our transitions adequately.” Madam Hannah Serwa Tetteh, Ghana’s immediate past Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister was the Chairperson of
The CDT-Ghana is a registered company limited by guarantee and established against the back of the very transitions Ghana had gone through since 1993 and the pivotal roles its members had played.
The Guarantors of the Centre are Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, Ghana’s  longest serving
Local Government Minister (1988-2000), Mr Julius Debrah, former Chief of Staff to former President John Dramani Mahama, Dr Callistus Mahama, the former Head of Ghana’s Local Government Service, Nana Ato Dadzie, a one-time Chief of Staff to the former President Jerry John Rawlings.

GNA

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