Dr Antwi-Danso urges caution in dealing with situation in Gabon
Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, an international relations expert has urged caution in dealing with the aftermath of the Gabon coup d’état.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Antwi-Danso said the August 30, 2023, military takeover in Gabon was because there was a democracy deficit in the Central African country.
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo was overthrown in a coup d’état on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, by the country’s military.
President Bongo’s overthrow would end his family’s 56-year hold on power in the resource-rich West African country.
The Coup leaders also announced the annulment of the results of Saturday’s election – in which President Bongo was declared the winner.
This would be the eighth coup in former French colonies in Africa in the past three years; France has condemned the latest events.
Dr Antwi-Danso, who is the Dean of the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (GAFCSC), said Africa’s democracy was still at the baby stage, where dictators had entrenched themselves to be ruling in perpetuity using the ballot box.
“Unfortunately, if you have a baby and you don’t nurse the baby very well, it will not grow well and it may die,” he said.
He said it was clear that democracy had not come to stay in Africa; saying, “it is not there. If it were there and it was being nurtured properly it would stay but it looks as if we are not nurturing democracy properly”.
He said Africa’s former colonial masters also believe in the ballot, thinking that once Africans had the ballots, then there was democracy.
“So, if people steal the ballots and they become presidents, then, they are recognized and protected by bringing in protocols and other international systems that have abhor their change,” Dr Antwi-Danso said.
‘There is a huge democracy deficit in Africa, if you watch the Gabon incident, specifically, one dynasty has ruled the country for 56 years and all they have to do is to win fraudulent elections.”
He said Gabon, despite having been blessed with abundant natural resources such as oil, over 40 per cent of the country’s population were unemployed.
Dr Antwi-Danso said Gabon’s former colonial master, France had two military bases in the country overseeing its own interest but was not much concerned about level of poverty, corruption, and mismanagement of Gabon’s natural resources.
Dr Antwi-Danso said the recent coups in former French colonies in Africa such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Gabon were clear examples that people were fed up with the French kind of influence.
“If you watch the recent coups, you will see that they are not the conspiratorial coups of the late 1960s and 1970s, there is no conspiracy anymore,” the Dean said.
He reiterated that the recent six coup d’etats in Africa were not made by young officers but rather they were all systemic coups made by the G/generals themselves.
“So, we don’t just say coups are happening in Africa, it is because of the democracy deficits.”
He said Africans were becoming fed up with the imposition of democracies, which were coupled with fraudulent elections.
“If you check Mali and others, and especially Niger, there is a clear sign that today, people are fed up with France.”
Touching on why civilians come out to jubilate anytime there was a coup in Africa, Dr Antwi-Danso noted that it was because the system was not working; stating that “the democracy they were promised is not working, so anybody is a saviour, any change is acceptable.”
Dr Antwi-Danso said things were still unfolding in Gabon now and that there was the need for stakeholders to be careful how they prescribe any solution; “but my prescription is that we don’t interfere. We need to help them in a better transition.”
“Of course, another reason why there are many coups in Africa is that the transition process is always ethnocentric, we give them (military rulers) six months, one year, two years and we don’t put the pillars of democracy before we elect another government.”
He said there was the need for stakeholders to help coup makers to transit properly, so that they do not come back.
He said a transitional process, which puts the pillars of democracy down before the ballot, was important.