The military has pledged to protect the Constitution and the sovereign will of the people, and not to engage in any activity that will threaten the peace and democracy of the state. “The coups in West Africa are a major concern, but, for us, we are resolved to protecting the Constitution and the will of the people. If the people decide that democracy is the type of governance they want, then we need to respect that,” the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, said last Friday when the leadership of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) paid a courtesy call on him at his office in Accra.
“Our mandate is to protect the territorial integrity of the State, and we are focused on that. So, when you hear any news of a coup, you should be assured that the Ghana Armed Forces is not interested in governance. We believe that if the people don’t want the government, they have a maximum of four years to change it,” he said. The GJA team, led by its President, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, embarked on the visit to discuss issues of mutual interest between the GAF and the GJA.
The CDS noted that coup d’états were matters of the past.
With the current state of the nation’s development, he said, almost every individual in the country understood that governance was not part of the mandate of the GAF. “It’s mostly the press who put the fear of a military coup in the people, but I want to assure you that we have the interest of the nation at heart. Everybody should be rest assured that the military is focused on protecting the territorial integrity of the nation, and not anything that will bring destruction,” Vice Admiral Amoama stated.
He further commended the GJA and the entire media fraternity for the crucial role they played in protecting the will of the people in the country. He noted that the GAF and the GJA had enjoyed some cordial relationships over the years even though there was still room for improvement.
“There are a few issues of unethical behaviour of some members of the association, especially the rush to publish unsubstantiated stories and also draw the GAF into the politics of the nation. Media coverage on security issues could be better when we are often consulted before our stories are published,” Vice Admiral Amoama said.
He said the GAF operated an open door policy, and through that, it had engaged with a number of institutions to build cordial relationships. Notable among them, he said, was the Ghana Bar Association (GBA). “We have built a very good relationship with the GBA to the extent that they would want to have a discussion with us before they issue a statement on any particular issue.
One example is our recent operations in Ashaiman in the Greater Accra Region. They consulted us, and we explained to them the circumstances which led to that operation and they clearly understood why that operation was necessary,” the CDS said.
On that same issue, he said, the GAF received a lot of media backlash, “but I believe if we had had a better interaction, the picture which was painted out there would’ve been different”. He also encouraged the media to look at the positive stories from the GAF, adding that “it’s not only negative news that sells but there are also positive developments in the GAF that could also sell”.
Mr Dwumfour said for some time now the military-media relationship had grown from strength to strength, and that the country’s democracy had continued to grow because of that cordial relationship. He said through that cordial relationship, the media were able to undertake their responsibility in peace and without fear of military interference.
He further gave an assurance of the GJA’s readiness to enhance the bond between the military and the media fraternity. In that regard, he said, the GJA would continue to have periodic engagement with the leadership of the GAF to seek better and innovative ways of keeping the bond.
By: Joshua Bediako Koomson & Mildred Asaah