Major General Richard Addo-Gyane, the Commandant of KAIPTC, addressing the gathering during the dialogue
Major General Richard Addo-Gyane, the Commandant of KAIPTC, addressing the gathering during the dialogue

Military takeovers sin to democracy — Maj. Gen. Addo-Gyane

The Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Major General Richard Addo-Gyane, says it is sacrilegious for any man in uniform to overthrow a democratically elected government, no matter how unpopular that administration is.


While frowning on the frequency of coup d'etats on the sub-region since 2020, the military officer questioned why the practice was gradually becoming popular despite its affront to constitutional rule.

He said the practice of the winner-takes-all policy needed to be re-examined to give room to other inputs and experiences from other groups. Maj. Gen. Addo-Gyane was contributing to the topic: "Democracy decline in West Africa: A conversation with policy actors” at a policy dialogue forum organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).


The programme, organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Ghana, was indeed a convocation of great minds, including the Executive Director, CDD, Ghana, Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh; President, Council of Foreign Relations Ghana, Ambassador D. K. Osei; the US Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Palmer, and Co-Founder of Afrobarometer, Prof. Gyimah Boadi.

The gathering also included academicians, politicians and students.


Maj. Gen. Addo-Gyane underscored the fact that in order to reverse the decline of democracy in the sub-region, leaders should tackle head-on the issue of greed which normally led to disillusion among the populace and deal with corruption and marginalised groups.

The gathering during the dialogue

The gathering during the dialogue

To him, democracy had been on the back-foot because Africa's Peer Review Mechanism had not been biting enough to deter would-be coup d'etat makers from abandoning their dreams.

However, the US Ambassador, Ambassador Osei and the main speaker, Prof. Larry Diamond, a democracy scholar at the Hoover Institute and Stanford University, believed the main threat to the decline of democracy was discrimination, social media and discrimination against minority groups.

Ambassador Palmer, for instance, said a study by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies released earlier this month found out that disinformation campaigns in Africa had surged nearly four-fold since 2022. 

Out of 189 documented disinformation campaigns in Africa, 72 of them targeted 13 countries in West Africa. She said 19 campaigns had targeted Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger since 2018.  

Sadly, the US Ambassador said disinformation campaigns were often state-sponsored regimes seeking to undermine democracy around the world.  

"Remember, if they can undermine democracy broadly, their authoritarian, top-down, command-and-control approach to the world can seem like a plausible alternative. "Their approach to the world cannot win the war of ideas and cannot deliver for their people, so they use disinformation to undermine institutions and trust in democratic government," she said.

Speaking on: "Power, performance, and legitimacy: Renewing global democratic momentum, Prof. Diamond said beyond disinformation, which African leaders should tackle head-on, was corruption.

He said every coup d'etat had corruption, either abuse of power or resources, playing a key role in triggering the menace. To him, the only solution to addressing the inglorious tradition is to strengthen institutions with massive investment.

Again, he suggested a strong economic and political environment that would deal with the issues of employment and basic social amenities such as roads and water, among others.


The Professor of democracy proffered some solutions which included judicial constraints of authoritarian executives, legislative resistance and oversight.

For his part, Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh looked at the trajectory of coup d'etats, especially in the sub-region, and emphasised the manipulation of the constitution to prolong the terms of presidents whose tenure was expiring.

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