President Akufo-Addo presenting a gift to President Adama Barrow
President Akufo-Addo has justified his decision to commit Ghanaian troops to The Gambia when there was a political standoff in that country.
That was when then President Yahya Jammeh had refused to concede defeat after losing the general elections, creating tension in the Gambia.
Ghana thus joined some West African countries to deploy military troops there to avoid a possible implosion.
At a meeting with the current President of the Gambia Adama Barrow at the Presidency, President Akufo-Addo indicated that he first decided to commit troops to the country because of democratic consolidation in the region.
“If we had just sat back and watched, the clear expression of the will of a member state of the region might have been thwarted by an outgoing President,” he stated.
He also talked about the opportunity it gave the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to act as a collective unit with a common purpose and objective, saying that the Gambian episode in the life of West Africa represented such a moment.
President Akufo-Addo told President Barrow that “the fact that at the end of the day the combination of diplomacy and the threat of military intervention resulted in the peaceful resolution of the crisis and brought you to power means that the action ECOWAS took which was supported actively by some of us, I believe, stands vindicated by history; and you have become a symbol of all of that.”
He reiterated Ghana’s determination to continue down the path of democratic accountability, saying, “Our people have indicated on several occasions [and] in the last elections how attached they are to democratic values and the principles of democratic accountability.”
Nana Akufo-Addo said, “For us, you are a friend; a friend fighting the same cause as our people have embarked on, and we are going to develop our nation on the free political institutions, giving the right to our people to decide at any one stage who should or who should not govern them in a peaceful and dignified manner.”
On his part, the Gambia President thanked the government and people of Ghana for their support and intervention during the trying times.
“My coming to Ghana is to come and say thank you; but the most interesting thing is the ECOWAS Heads of State, including yourself and the government of Ghana. You intervened in the situation in the Gambia to defend democracy; you intervened to defend the truth and I believe Africa has gone very far now because the problem was an African problem and the solution was an African solution and that is a credit to all Africans,” Mr Barrow said.
He was of the belief that Africa cannot move forward without the principle of democracy.
He posited that “we contested the elections based on this principle and we would continue to advocate for the same principle.”
President Barrow expressed the hope that the relationship between the two countries would continue to flourish.
“There are a good number of Gambians who schooled here in Ghana. Ghana produced Kwame Nkrumah, the first to bring independence to Africa; Ghana produced Ghanaians like Kofi Annan, the first black Secretary-General of the United Nations and Abedi Pele. I think Ghana has gone far and we are here also to learn and to get the experience to get to where you are, and we need your support,” he underscored.
The Gambian leader emphasized the need for some urgent reforms in his country after 22 years of transition, which said “has polluted the system and we need the help of ECOWAS to continue our mandate in the Gambia.”
“You cannot function as a government if you do not have security and that is paramount, so as a brother and a friend, that is the message.”
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent