Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Ghana: Wobble and ambiguities as Mills faces Côte d'Ivoire test

In the most serious regional crisis since President John Atta Mills took office in January 2009, he has sent conflicting signals: both to the presidential rivals in neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire and to Ghana's regional allies in ECOWAS. This week, Ghana's delegation to the AU summit in Addis Ababa will have to work hard both to clarify and justify Accra's stance.

Ghana starts from the position that the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire is both a threat to and a distraction from its own oil and gas-fuelled development plans. The Ivorian crisis, with the reality of political and economic refugees crossing the border to Ghana and the threat of a regional war to oust Gbagbo, makes running Ghana's economy and attracting investment much harder.

As one official in Accra told Ghana P&S: “We are dealing with international investors who hardly differentiate between Congo, Tunisia and Zimbabwe – as far as they're concerned Abidjan is a suburb of Accra. We have to show diplomatic maturity and protect our economic self-interest here...”

The official conceded that there were genuine confusions over Ghana's stance on Côte d'Ivoire which would be cleared up at the Addis Ababa meeting. But, he added there were important questions to be raised about how the crisis has been handled so far. These reflect wider concerns about ECOWAS and the AU overreaching themselves, as well as the residual power of French influence in African diplomatic affairs.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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