President Akufo-Addo shaking hands with Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas (right), African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns, after the opening session of the AU forum on unconstitutional changes of governments in Accra. With them is Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (left), Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Emilia Ndinelao Mkusa (partly covered), Permanent Representative of Namibia, and Ambassador Bankole Adeoye (partly covered), AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
President Akufo-Addo shaking hands with Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas (right), African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns, after the opening session of the AU forum on unconstitutional changes of governments in Accra. With them is Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (left), Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Emilia Ndinelao Mkusa (partly covered), Permanent Representative of Namibia, and Ambassador Bankole Adeoye (partly covered), AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
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Empower institutions, citizens to demand accountability - President tells AU

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on the African Union (AU) and other regional bodies to invest in developing national institutions and empower citizens with the requisite knowledge to demand compliance and accountability from their governments.

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He said he was aware of the grave dangers some of those who had dared to engage at the national level faced, adding that “in those instances where the defenders of governance and constitutionalism face repression, we must raise our voices in their defence as a collective”.

“We cannot abandon the messengers we send when they are confronted with dangers because of the messages they deliver,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo made the call when he opened the African Union Accra Reflections Forum III on unconstitutional changes of governments in Africa in Accra yesterday.

Experience

He said experience had taught that even though external support was essential for accountability, it was ultimately national institutions, structures and processes that could effectively elicit compliance for our collective norms and frameworks on governance, democracy and constitutional rule.

He explained that most celebrations about coups were more about the change than the support for the unconstitutional change.

“Once elections are not truly free and fair and legal tactics are employed to undermine the spirit of democracy, when legal loopholes are exploited to subvert constitutional provisions that guarantee inclusion and participation, when state apparatus is used to muscle freedom of expression, citizens begin to feel the democratic process has taken them hostage and often celebrate anything that looks like an end to their present predicament,” he explained.

“The answer is simple; our people simply want to enjoy the true dividends of democracy,” he added.

Coup questions

“Given that these coup d’etats are taking place in sovereign states, what are the realistic and practical preventative and responsive measures that our multilateral institutions should consider, given the obvious limitations emerging around existing practices and norms?” he asked.

President Akufo-Addo added that there was plenty of early warning information from every country’s intelligence services and these agencies reported the threat and risk profiles of their countries.

He said with early warning architecture at the regional and continental level, complemented by the Committee of Intelligence Security Services of Africa, he wondered why unconstitutional changes of governments on our continent were not nipped in the bud.

“Is there a disconnect in the flow of information between these structures and decision-making? Or are we allowing the politics of decision-making and the pursuit of national interest to stand in the way of action,” he asked.

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