Thursday, September 18, 2008

Power sharing trend in Africa is worrying – Jonah

     Dr. Kwesi Jonah, Resident Scholar at the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), on Monday said the trend of power sharing deals in Africa was worrying and called for the forthrightness of the regional and continental bodies in dealing with unpopular political leaders.
     "The way power sharing deals are being signed in African countries lately, if we are not careful unpopular politicians will continue to steal elections with the hope that if they do not win there will be a power sharing deal," he said in an interview with the GNA.
     Dr. Jonah therefore called on the African Union (AU), ECOWAS and other regional and continental bodies to be forthright in dealing with recalcitrant African leaders and refuse to recognise them when the evidence showed that they stole elections.
     His call came at the heels of the most recent power sharing deal in Zimbabwe between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF Party and Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
     The deal, which had been described by analysts as a historic one, left President Mugabe as President and Mr Tsvangirai as Prime Minister and head of the 31-member cabinet, in which the two factions of his party were in the majority.
     Before the Zimbabwean power sharing deal, there was the Kenyan one a few months ago and even the Ivorian one much earlier.
     Dr Jonah noted that in a situation where there was electoral dispute and a stalemate that led to the violence, such as in Zimbabwe and Kenya, a power sharing deal was useful because it broke the stalemate and cycle of violence.
     "But if we are not careful tyrannical rulers will use power sharing deals as shortcut to power.
    "Some will even stage a coup with the hope that in the end they will get a power sharing deal."
      Dr Jonah said it was time for the regional bodies to take the reports they collate from their electoral observers more seriously and sanction leaders who were found out as having stolen elections.
     "For instance, in Zimbabwe it was sufficiently clear that Robert Mugabe stole the elections and in Kenya there was enough evidence to show that Mwai Kibaki stole the elections but the AU was not forthright in dealing with these persons," he said.
     Dr. Jonah said as long as the continental and regional bodies continued to recognise leaders who stole elections, the continent was likely to witness more power sharing deals and that was worrying.
     He called on all stakeholders in Ghana's forthcoming elections, particularly the Electoral Commission (EC) to manage the elections in such a manner as would not give any political party cause to dispute the results to prevent any attempt by any party to seek a power sharing deal.
     "If we reach a stage in our national development and we agree that a coalition government is better than winner takes all, that is fine, but until then we need to ensure that our elections are free, fair, peaceful and transparent enough not to warrant any power sharing deal," he said.
     He said considering that Kenya, Zimbabwe and Cote d'Ivoire used to be some of the most stable and respected countries in Africa, Ghanaians should know that what happened in those three countries could happen in Ghana too.
     Dr Jonah noted that as Ghana's electoral register stood now, it needed thorough cleaning before it could be a credible document for credible elections, saying, "we still have the opportunity to clean up the register and we must do it before December".
     He said the voter register was flawed on the grounds that the EC itself anticipated between 600,000 to one million new people to register and as many as 1.835 (over 80 per cent more) registered in the recent partial registration exercise.
     Dr Jonah said between 2002 and 2004 the register increased by a margin of four per cent, between 2004 and 2006 it increased by 6.6 per cent but between 2006 and this year the increase was a whooping 16.7 per cent, which was unrealistic under any circumstance.
     "The EC, political parties and civil society organisations must work hand in hand to clean the voters' register before elections to prevent any disputes and the possible resultant power sharing deal," he said.

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