Political scientist at the University of Ghana, Prof. Rasnford Gyampo says the Akufo-Addo-led government failed to show “democratic maturity” in its handling of Ghana’s controversial military agreement with the United States.
In his estimation, processes leading to the ratification of the agreement by parliament, which has widely been criticized, smacks of “intransigent politics,” a practice he argued, has become the hallmark of Ghana’s democracy since 1992.
Prof. Gyampo who is the Director of the Centre for European Studies said the manner the agreement was handled in parliament by the majority members of the House “was shameful”.
READ: Parliament ratifies military agreement with US without Minority
Analyzing President Nana Akufo-Addo’s address to the nation Thursday on the controversial agreement, Prof. Gyampo chided the president for not condemning Parliament on how it went about the ratification process.
The value is the same
Though president Akufo-Addo in the address explained to Ghanaians that his government resolved to present the agreement to parliament to be subjected to appropriate scrutiny, Prof. Gyampo insisted that objective was not achieved.
“Given what happened to the agreement in Parliament, I am tempted to say that there wasn’t much difference between those who signed their agreement in secrecy and those who sent it to parliament,” Prof. Gyampo held.
The university don contended that sending a document to parliament without allowing minority views “to tamper the original agreement satisfies only the tenets of procedural democracy, which means little in the quest for democratic maturity”.
“If Parliament could not make input into the agreement; and if the Attorney-General’s input could not change the contents of the agreement, then why was it sent to parliament in the first place? It could have been signed in secrecy too,” he added.
He said this practice cannot be part of the tenets of substantive democracy, adding substantive democracy calls for “consensus building,” particularly on key national issues.
Prof. Gyampo said once we the government resolved to be open and democratic about the agreement, he expected government to have gone the full length of the process.
For him, President Akufo-Addo could have withdrawn the agreement from parliament temporarily, and engaged the minority leadership behind the scenes.
That, he contended, could have “softened their stance to pave the way for the re-tabling of the agreement before parliament. This process could have galvanized bi-partisan support of the agreement”.
Though he said the president ought to be commended for breaking his silence on the agreement, Prof. Gyampo said the address sidestepped some germane issues in the previous similar agreements with the US.
He stated “there are some slight differences between the previous agreements and the current one” yet Nana Akufo-Addo was “silent on the differences,” something he said “wasn’t fair and transparent enough”
Prof. Gyampo has meanwhile observed Ghana’s democracy won’t grow if the minority would “always have their mere say while the majority enjoys their way”.
The minority members, he said, must be encouraged to stay even if they want to walk out.
“Similarly, the majority must be encouraged to be magnanimous and willing to factor minority views into their stance on issues. It doesn’t advance the interest of substantive democracy to always use numbers, because the majority cannot always be right,” he advised.
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