Ghana criticised for opting out of possible military push in Cote d’Ivoire

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Foreign policy analysts in Nigeria have described as unfortunate the statement credited to Ghana's President John Atta Mills, that his country will not contribute troops in the event of an ECOWAS military action to force out incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.

“That is rather very unfortunate and if President John Atta Mills does that, I think he is only succeeding in biting the fingers that fed him, in the sense that he is a product of a free and fair ballot,'' said a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of Abuja, Dr. Kabiru Mato.

''It is unbecoming of a democratically-elected person like President Mills, but I hope he was quoted out of context and that (that) was not the statement he made,” he said.

Dr. Mato added: “I think the rest of ECOWAS should go ahead with the Abuja resolution to ensure that the disaster of sit-tight leaders in the West African sub-region is forcefully done with. If diplomacy, persuasion and other initiatives do not see the light of the day, I think the rest of the region should go ahead with the military action against Gbagbo.''

Addressing a press conference to mark his second anniversary in office, in Accra Friday, the Ghana President said his country does not believe in the use of force but in quiet diplomacy, and that he could not risk the lives of the one million Ghanaians living in Cote d'Ivoire, who could face possible reprisal attacks if Ghana participates in the military action.

However, analysts say the statement is an indication of a division among the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which issued the threat to force out Gbagbo if he fails to step down in favour of the presumed winner of the 28 Nov. presidential runoff in the former French colony.

They said the statement could be misinterpreted as a tacit support to the illegality going on in Cote d’Ivoire.

“First of all, I don’t know the context under which he (Ghana President) said it. However, my view point is that if ECOWAS decides to send troops, Ghana holds it a responsibility to send troops, it is a regional obligation,''  said Prof. Bola  Akinterinwa of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos.

However, another analyst with NIIA, Dr. Fred Agwu, expressed the belief that President Mills acted in line with his country's national interest.

“The most important thing in a situation like this is for a country to realize the place of its national interest in whatever roles it wants to play. That is the most significant consideration any country taking any decision must be very conscious of.

“So any country that is going to be a participant in any military operation against Gbagbo must first of all consider the place of its own national interest, either in terms of its business interest or the plight of its nationals in Cote d’Ivoire,'' the senior research fellow said.
-0- PANA SB/SEG 10Jan2011

                                                          

10 january 2011 13:45:19




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