President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday indicated that government was taking steps to resolve the rising political stalemate in neighbouring Togo, in Ghana’s interest.
He said the standoff between the opposition political parties and the Togolese government was a matter of great concern to Ghana, saying, “I cannot be idle as these events takes place.”
President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance when Togbega AmenyaFiti V, Paramount Chief of the Anlo-Aflao Traditional State, together with Chiefs of the State, paid a courtesy call on him at the Flagstaff House in Accra.
Togbega Fiti V during the call pleaded with the President to intervene in the standoff to restore peace and order in Togo in order to
prevent the situation where the influx of refugees could upset the economic fortunes of the Aflao Traditional Area.
The President disclosed that he had had serious discussions with the Togolese leader Faure Gnassingbe when he (Faure) called on him in Tamale last two weeks when he was on tour of the Northern Region.
He said he was also in talks with the political actors in Togo to chart a path for lasting peace in that country.
“The Togolese President came to see me in Tamale 10 days ago, and I have been meeting a lot of the political actors in the situation, and, definitely, we are all working to see how we can bring this crisis to a closure, and bring stability and peace back to Togo. It is in all of our interests to do so,” he said.
The President recounted the disturbances that occurred in 2005, in the wake of the death of the former President of Togo, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, and the succession problems it created, which resulted in over 100,000 Togolese refugees streaming across the border into Ghana.
“Anything that happens in Togo is a matter of great concern to you. It is a matter of concern to us and all the people of Ghana. You can be sure that I cannot be idle, as these events take place,” he said.
“I am not staying idle in this matter. We are acting. Let us pray for understanding and the blessing of the Almighty so that we can find a solution, that will be in the interest of the people of Togo, and then, by implication, the people of Ghana,” he told Togbega Fiti V and his chiefs.
President Akufo-Addo also called on Togbega Fiti V to support government in ensuring that the 24-hour open border policy served its purpose, and was not abused to the benefit of criminals and smugglers.
He said the policy was in conformity with Ghana’s commitment to ECOWAS, and it Protocols on the Free Movement of Goods and Persons, thus the Chiefs and people of the Anlo-Aflao State should complement the law enforcement agencies in ensuring that smuggling was not a part of the open-border policy.
“When policies such as this are being implemented for constructive purposes, there are always a few criminal minds who want to use it for another purpose. It is a good occasion to ask for your help so that those who want to use the open-border for smuggling and illicit activities, as much as possible, we mobilise the population and make sure that it doesn’t happen.”
“Mobilise the population to act against syndicates that want to use the border for smuggling activities,” the President urged.
On a request by Togbega Fiti V for the creation of a new municipality out of the Ketu South for the people of Aflao, President Akufo-Addo assured the chief that government was working on the proposal and was ready discuss the modalities for creating the new municipality with the traditional authority.
“I have done a lot of work on your behalf, and the Minister for Local Government, Hajia Alima Mahama, is waiting to hold a meeting with you, in order to bring the Municipality into being. For me, it makes a lot of sense (that the Municipality is created).”
The President reiterated the commitment of government to working with traditional authorities in this country, noting that the Constitution of the Republic requires that Central Government works hand-in-hand with the traditional authorities to give the country good governance.
“I am extremely committed to the teachings of the Constitution that we should work together. We have to co-operate for the benefit of the people of Ghana,” he added.
Togbega Fiti V thanked the President for the various initiatives that had been implemented by his government to boost the socio-economic fortunes of the area, and pleaded for all uncompleted projects started by the previous administration to be finished.