Eye on Ghana – Upcoming Elections
Ghana, one of the more politically stable and democratically mature countries in Africa, is holding presidential and parliamentary elections nationwide on Friday, 7 December. The polls will open at 0700hrs (GMT) at 26,002 stations. Slightly over half of the 24 million populace are registered to vote, although a 60 to 75 percent turnout is expected. There are eight presidential candidates, and 1,332 parliamentary aspirants for the 275 single-seat constituencies. Speaking on Wednesday, Electoral Commission (EC) chairman, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, disclosed the commission will announce the poll results by Monday, 10 December.
President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) are the foremost presidential contenders. Independent observers largely believe Mahama has a slight lead over his rival due to the traditional incumbency advantages and support from the Akan majority in Ghana, conflicting with DaMina Advisors’ statistical forecast that Akufo-Addo will emerge a clear winner in the first round of the polls with a majority of at least 52 percent. The risk advisory firm attributes NDC’s anticipated loss to the poor campaign penetration among the illiterate and semi-illiterate, a general decrease in popularity, infighting, and religious and geo-ethnic factors.
The other candidates are Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Michael Abu Sakara Foster of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Henry Lartey of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Hassan Ayariga of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Akwasi Addai of the United Front Party (UFP) and Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate.
If none of the candidates emerge as a clear winner of a 50 percent majority plus one vote, a run off will be held on 28 December. In the case of the parliamentary elections, a simple majority will determine the new Members of Parliament. The campaigning period that has reportedly collectively cost about USD288 million (GHS549 million) is set to end at midnight on Wednesday, 5 December.
Special voting for EC staff and security, immigration and emergency personnel experienced few problems on Tuesday, 4 December. Hundreds of the prospective voters in the Greater Accra, Western and Volta regions were not listed on EC’s register, and after consulting officials at various polling stations, were told to return early on Friday. The fault reportedly lay with the voters who had failed to provide the required information and documentation. There were also reports of minor skirmishes among the voters, which marginally raised concerns of disruptions on Friday. Furthermore, EC continues to face criticism over the non-registration of 3,000 constituents in Upper Eastern Region’s Kassena-Nankana district, and the registration of minors.
Sylvia Annor, the commission’s Principal Public Relations Officer, remains optimistic about a smooth voting process; she was satisfied with the performance of the verification machines during the special voting sessions, describing the process as “quicker” and an “improvement of the past” and offered her reassurances that registered voters will not be disenfranchised, as civil service organisations, politicians and judiciary officials continue to dissuade those under the age of 18 from voting on Friday.
Indeed Annor’s optimism is supported by historical trends as Ghana has held five relatively peaceful national elections since 1992, which was preceded by a period of political instability and military rule. During the elections in 2008, violence erupted surrounding the tense unprecedented second run-off between Atta Mills and Akufo-Addo amid claims of intimidation at polling stations, ballot-box stuffing and inflated results. Jarreth Merz, director of the acclaimed documentary, “An African Election”, during a TED talk last July, described the subsequent onset of calm as the frenzied crowd in Accra started to chant for peace as one reflective both of the power of the people and Ghana’s determination to honour democracy.
Friday’s elections are expected to be peaceful, but the risk of violence remains and many are watching to see if Ghana will maintain its comparatively good record in peaceful power changes.
Free and fair elections will bolster the legitimacy of the winner and preclude potential electoral unrest. The new biometric system will for the first time be used to confirm the identities of registered voters, and while it does not eliminate fraud or electoral malfeasance, it somewhat strengthens the credibility of elections through the computerisation of operational procedures and identity verification. About 290 joint election observers from the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union, amongst other international observers, will monitor proceedings throughout the ten regions. Ghana is placing a large emphasis on the maintenance of order and 23,000 policemen supported by 18,000 immigration, fire, custom and prison officials will be available on the day and 5,000 soldiers will be on standby.
Source: CP Africa
Ghana was the first place in sub-Saharan Africa where Europeans arrived to trade – first in gold, later in slaves.
It was also the first black African nation in the region to achieve independence from a colonial power, in this instance Britain.
Despite being rich in mineral resources, and endowed with a good education system and efficient civil service, Ghana fell victim to corruption and mismanagement soon after independence in 1957.
In 1966 its first president and pan-African hero, Kwame Nkrumah, was deposed in a coup, heralding years of mostly-military rule. In 1981 Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings staged his second coup. The country began to move towards economic stability and democracy.
Elmina Castle, an important centre of the slave trade
In April 1992 a constitution allowing for a multi-party system was approved in a referendum, ushering in a period of democracy.
A well-administered country by regional standards, Ghana is often seen as a model for political and economic reform in Africa.
Cocoa exports are an essential part of the economy; Ghana is the world's second-largest producer.
At a glance
- Politics: Ghana is one of the more stable nations in the region, with a good record of power changing hands peacefully
- Economy: Ghana is the world's second largest cocoa producer behind Ivory Coast, and Africa's biggest gold miner after South Africa. It is one of the continent's fastest growing economies, and newest oil producer
The discovery of major offshore oil reserves was announced in June 2007, encouraging expectations of a major economic boost.
Production officially began at the end of 2010, but some analysts expressed concern over the country's ability to manage its new industry, as laws governing the oil sector had not yet been passed.
In July 2009, Ghana secured a 600 million dollar three-year loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), amid concerns about the impact of the global recession on poorer countries. The IMF said the Ghanaian economy had proved to be relatively resilient because of the high prices of cocoa and gold.
Ghana has a high-profile peacekeeping role; troops have been deployed in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and DR Congo.
Although Ghana has largely escaped the civil strife that has plagued other West African countries, in 1994-95 land disputes in the north erupted into ethnic violence, resulting in the deaths of 1,000 people and the displacement of a further 150,000