The Kofi Annan Peace and Security (KAPS) Forum had advocated for better governance and true democracy for peace and security in Africa. This was revealed by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) Commandant, Maj. Gen. Francis Ofori during the second edition of the KAPS Forum which held in Ghana.
The KAPS forum, a two-day event which held on Dec. 8 and 9 was themed; Democracy and Governance in the Context of Complex Crises in West Africa.
The international platform brings together political leaders, diplomats and experts for policy dialogue on evolving trends in peace and security on the continent of Africa.
Maj. Gen. Ofori said the forum fits into the strategic objectives of the KAIPTC in enhancing the capacity of ECOWAS, AU and their relevant structures to perform their mandates in ensuring peace and security in Africa.
“The theme for this year’s KAPS Forum ‘Democracy and Governance in the Context of Complex Crises in West Africa’ has been chosen against the backdrop of the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
“As you occupy the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Governments, Mr President, the 2021 KAPS Forum aims at building political will to reaffirm the avowed commitment to democracy and credible elections.
“Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, there cannot be a more opportune time to discuss democracy and governance in West Africa than now, considering the developments in our Sub- Region in particular, and Africa in general.” he said.
The commandant said the state of democracy globally points to a democratic backsliding characterized by a sustained and deliberate process of subversion of basic democratic tenets by some political actors and governments.
He said if the situation is not confronted with the seriousness it deserves, it can embolden some political systems to intensify their practices and engage in ever more brazen attempts to distort the workings of democracies.
The commandant further commended the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, the Governments of Norway, Sweden and Germany for their support.
He also commended former Heads of State and Diplomats from all corners of Africa for their participation in the Forum and the Chairman of KAPS Forum, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas for facilitating the process.
He concluded by wishing former President John Agyekum Kuffour, a Happy Birthday.
President Akufo-Addo however gave assurance that he will continue to respect the ECOWAS protocols on democracy and position Ghana as a positive influence on other African countries in terms of democratic consolidation.
According to him, he has no plan of tampering with Ghana’s democratic credentials as a beacon of democracy on the continent; thus has vowed to respect the two-term presidential limit and conduct a credible democratic general election in 2024.
He also vowed to hand over power peacefully as soon as he completes his tenure as the president.
The President charged his colleague heads of state to uphold the tenets of the ECOWAS protocol on democratic governance.
“Ghana is often touted as a beacon of democracy in Africa. Since 1992, it has won plaudits for her democratic credentials. Five presidential transitions, three of which resulted in the peaceful transition of power from one political party to the other.
“We want to be seen as a positive influence in other African countries that continue to face challenges with democratic consolidation.
“As president of Ghana and current chair of the authority of ECOWAS states and governments, I pledge to continue to respect the tenets of the ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance,” he said.
He stressed that the maintenance of peace and security remains a big challenge on the African continent, and the issue has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to some heads of state undermining the democratic credentials of their countries.
The Chairman of Kofi Annan Foundation, Elhadj As Sy however said without peace, there can be no development and that without peace, human rights are always in jeopardy.
He said without peace, West Africa cannot fulfil its enormous potential.
“Kofi Annan knew that there could be no lasting peace without democracy, both domestically and internationally, which is why he worked tirelessly to promote and support democracy, first at the helm of the United Nations and later through his Foundation.
“Academic research has amply demonstrated not only the correlation between democracy and peace, inclusive economic development, the respect for human rights, good governance and even life expectancy; it has also highlighted the link between growing authoritarianism and political instability, coups d’Etat and even insurgencies.
“Put simply, if a disgruntled population does not believe it can achieve peaceful change via the ballot box, it will find alternatives. It is only a matter of time.” he said.
The Chairman recalled that much of West Africa was plagued by coups and civil wars in its first decades of independence but was also the first region on the continent to democratise after the end of the Cold War.
According to him, West Africa set the stage for two decades of stability and growing prosperity.
“Events over the past few years and particularly the coups in Mali and Guinea, have sounded the alarm; the democratic gains of yesterday are in jeopardy today.
“While digital communication channels have opened a new space for political debate and civic engagement, they have also allowed the proliferation of disinformation, fake news, and hate speech, manipulating voters and weakening trust in institutions all over the world.
“The pandemic has only accelerated and exacerbated the anti-democratic trends at work.
Some leaders argue that democracy is over-rated and that what their people want is economic development, which is better served by so-called strong leadership.
“If we do not shore up the democratic legitimacy of our political systems by ensuring the integrity of elections, the respect of fundamental human rights and freedoms, the political, but also economic and social inclusion of disenfranchised groups in our societies, particularly women and youth, West Africa will face growing unrest and violence in the years to come.
“In other words, the crisis of democracy is already becoming a crisis of peace and security.” he said.
The KAPS Forum is held in memory of Busumuru Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations who dedicated his life to promoting global peace and security.
KAIPTC was named after this distinguished peace ambassador from Ghana.
KAPS 2021 event was jointly hosted by KAIPTC and the Kofi Annan Foundation from Geneva.
The two institutions came together based on its shared commitments to upholding the values of the late Busumuru Kofi Annan, whose understanding of peace was founded on a holistic vision of societies based on good governance, democracy, and human rights, especially in Africa.
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