Can Solve Its Own Problems, Ghanaian Minister Tells Inner City Press, On LRA
Peace Talks and Kofi Annan's Views
Matthew Russell Lee at the UN
August 9 -- Africa is or should be able to solve its own problems, Ghana's
Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
said Wednesday in
New York. Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, currently in The Hague on
charges of war crimes, should have been tried in Africa, according to Minister
Nana, who noted that "it would be anomalous for Milosevic to have been tried in
Freetown." He added that the indictments by the Hague-based International
Criminal Court of the top five officials of the Lord's Resistance Army rebels
from Uganda should be put on hold pending peace and amnesty talks being held in
Juba in South Sudan between the LRA and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni government.
Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and S-G Kofi Annan
which holds the presidency of the UN Security Council this month, had scheduled
a full day open session on West Africa peace consolidation. Ghanaian
Foreign Minister Nana began by noting that while "events in the Middle East are
important, there are other important events in other parts of the world. I think
it is just as well that a balance is established to show that the concerns of
humanity are not just focused on one region but focused on all parts of the
world that need consideration and discussion."
responding to seven
questions from Inner City Press at the conclusion of the afternoon session,
ranging from Ivory Coast through Liberia to Uganda and Zimbabwe, Minister Nana
sketched out an Afro-centric vision of justice and "peace on the Continent." He
expressed hope that diplomatic relations between the world community,
specifically the United Kingdom, and the Robert Mugabe government in Zimbabwe
can be improved.
Responding to concerns that Mr. Mugabe's appointed mediator and former Tanzanian
president Benjamin Mkapa is too close to Mugabe to be seen as independent, and
that Kofi Annan erred in deferring to Mr. Mkapa, Minister Nana said, "I prefer
to wait and see." He responded similarly when asked about the peace talks with
the Lord's Resistance Army. "Talks for peace? That has to be good, right? We
must wait to see what happens."
Kofi Annan's spokesman was asked by Inner City Press to respond to these "wait
and see" views. At the televised noon briefing, the spokesman said that the
indictments are for the ICC to comment on, but that "the Secretary-General and
the UN system do not condone impunity." He stated that countries which are
signatories to the ICC's Rome Statute, which included Uganda, must arrest and
turn over indictees to the ICC in The Hague. More generally, he stated that
"each post-war situation calls for a different solution, drawn up by governments
themselves." This appears to apply to the
UN's silence on the offer of a colonel's
position in the Congolese army to Peter Karim,
who took seven UN peacekeepers hostage for over forty days. The spokesman closed
with a reference to the UN's new Peacebuilding Commission, which is focused in
part on Burundi.
to The Hague, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis
Moreno-Ocampo has repeatedly reminded Uganda and the Democratic Republic of
Congo, where LRA leaders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti are reportedly staying, of
their duties to enforce the ICC's arrest warrants for both men and three other
LRA leaders. From Wednesday's statements by Ghanaian minister Nana, it appears
clear that Ghana, or its foreign minister at least, has doubts about the
indictments. In the sphere of lobbying, some have begun to call for the ICC "to
employ Article 53(4) of the Rome Statute, under which the Prosecutor can
reconsider a decision at any time based on new facts or information.'"
Charles Taylor, Minister Nana complained that too many "are talking as if he has
already been convicted."
separate interview Tuesday with the United Kingdom's permanent representative to
the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, Inner City Press inquired into reports that the UK is
promoting a draft security council resolution to allow the use of force and
crossing of borders into the Congo to pursue the LRA and its leadership.
Ambassador Jones Parry confirmed that the UK is drafting such a resolution.
another matter before the Security Council, the request to remove the sanction
on the trade in Liberian diamonds, Minister Nana noted that ECOWAS has called
for a lifting of all sanctions with economic impacts, by implication including
the diamond sanctions. Mr. Nana said, " if as we see a responsible and
accountable government is beginning to put its feet down in Monrovia, there's
every reason to assist that process by enabling them to have access to more and
more money to do the work they need to do to consolidate peace in their
Security Council is also actively seized of the situation in Ivory Coast in the
run-up to the elections now scheduled for October 31. Inner City Press asked
Minister Nana if he expects that deadline to be met. Mr. Nana responded that
"increasingly most of us have recognized that may not be feasible," but that the
need to maintain momentum should "guide all actors in the Ivorian drama." Asked
to respond to Laurent Gbagbo's recent statement that he will remain in power
even if elections are further delayed, Minister Nana said he is "not in a
position to comment on the Constitutional propriety either way."
Wednesday's open Council session, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke of the
competing needs for reconciliation and for strengthening the rule of law.
Wednesday Inner City Press asked Mr. Annan's spokesman to prioritize these two.
The spokesman's response noted that "the Secretary-General and the UN system do
not condone impunity" and that "justice must be served without delay." In the
tinted glass building on Manhattan's East River bank, the statements are
straight-forward. Out in zones of conflict, particularly out of the media's
spotlight like the deal in East Congo with Peter Karim, the messages get lost.
Nor, some note, has peace as yet resulted.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
The responses of
Ghana's Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and Inner City Press'
questions, are online at
September 22, 2006, while covering Condoleeza Rice's appearance at the
Waldorf=Astoria Hotel at a meeting on Darfur, Inner City Press learned from a
well-placed source that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is moving to run for
president of Ghana in 2008...
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