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Ghana: Political Kudos
Jan 13 2009 (090113)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"It's a triumph for Africa," headlined Kenya's Daily Nation on
January 7, as Ghana's new President, opposition leader John AttaMills,
was sworn in after a closely fought election (http://tinyurl.com/9sdwqs). The sentiment was repeated around the
continent and the world, often with pointed comments on the
contrast to other recent elections on the continent.
Nigerian and Kenyan media were particularly explicit in making
comparisons and calling for their countries to heed Ghana's
example. And indeed the occasion was historic, as Atta Mills'
inauguration was the second time that the country had peacefully
elected and inaugurated an opposition presidential candidate.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains brief selections of African
commentaries, beginning with an excerpt from an interview President
Atta-Mills gave to a Nigerian journalist in Lagos on his visit to
Nigeria this week. Also included is a background analysis by
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, focusing on Ghana's political history since
independence, and excerpts from comments in the Daily Independent
(Lagos) and the Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra).
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today focuses on the economic
challenges facing the new Ghanaian government, with excerpts from
the Ghana Human Development Report 2007 and a 2008 Afrobarometer
survey of Ghanaian opinion on economic conditions.
For an extensive background dossier on the elections, including
bibliographic references, see
For previous issues of AfricaFocus Bulletin on Ghana, and links to
additional background information, see
For books on Ghana and other West Africa countries, visit
http://www.africafocus.org/books/west.php (selected by AfricaFocus)
http://tinyurl.com/8tqwkl (Amazon search),
http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/bookshop (extensive topical
For Ghanaian music on CDs, http://tinyurl.com/9odmx4
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
I will ensure women get 40% representation - Attah Mills
President John Attah Mills of Ghana, on Sunday attended his first
church service in Lagos, where he spoke on issues affecting
leadership in Africa and other matters. MUDIAGA AFFE was there.
In the past, Ghanaians left the country as a result of the economic
downturn, but today the story is different. What was the success
In the 80s when a number of Ghanaians came to Nigeria, we were
really in crisis. I believe credit must be given to the PMDC at
that time which took over the mantle of leadership and the solid
foundation that it laid; its economic recovery programme and other
initiatives that laid the foundation for a stronghold on the
economy. In the early 80s we were recording negative growth;
inflation was more than 100 per cent. At the time the NDC was
leaving office, we were recording 4.5 per cent economic growth
because inflation had been brought down to 30-40 per cent. A number
of initiatives had been taken and I must confess that they have
built on that level over time.
How was Ghana able to achieve success in its series of run-off
election, considering the fact those other African countries had
run into troubled waters while attempting to conduct run-off
The main objective of an election is to get a leader and when you
go into election there are rules. Very often we talk about free,
fair and transparent election, but some people just say it, they
really do not mean it. If the election is free and fair, I do not
see why you will not accept if you were declared a loser. When you
go into contests, there is either a winner or loser and when you
are a winner you must be magnanimous in victory. But you see, the
problem in Africa is the tendency of someone wanting to cling to
power, and you will ask; why would you want to cling to power when
the people you are supposedly ruling have indicated that they
wanted you to pave the way for someone else? I must say that we
must put the interest of the people first, when we do that we would
see that all other things will come to place. This is not the first
time I am contesting an election in Ghana. In fact I contested the
first time, conceded two times even though there were problems, and
I thought at a time that if I hadn't conceded we would have had
some problems in that country.
In your manifesto, you said you were going to have 40 per cent
women in your cabinet, are you still planning to achieve that?
Well at that time, I said we were aiming at 40 per cent. Let me
tell you, we have appointed the first woman speaker in the history
of that country, and that is for now. We are still going to aim at
that because we still have very well qualified women in Ghana
through their work, so long as they are willing and available, I do
not see why we should bypass them, so women 40 per cent, men 60 per
In four years, what would you want Ghanaians to remember you for,
what legacies will you leave behind?
I would want to be remembered as the President who used the
resources of the country to the benefit of the people of the
country and someone who provided equal opportunities for all
irrespective of their political affiliation or their ethnic
Ghana's electoral run-off, Nkrumah to the rescue
Pambazuka News 413 December 18, 2008
* Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is general secretary of the Global
Pan-African Movement, based in Kampala, Uganda, and is also
director of Justice Africa, based in London, UK.
Don't we all wish we were Ghanaian? They have just had universally
acknowledged free and fair elections in which the difference
between the two leading candidates (the flag bearer of the ruling
party and that of the main opposition and former ruling party) was
less than 2 per cent! Yet both groups accepted the outcome without
screaming 'rigging', 'intimidation', 'torture', 'irregularities'
and threatening 'no candidate = no election' , 'rivers of blood' or
legal challenges. Both candidates and their parties and allies are
busy preparing for the run-off.
By no means were the electioneering campaigns perfect, especially
in hotly contested areas which hold the balance of the votes like
Tamale and other parts of the marginalised northern region, where
there was some violence. But on a scale of 'do or die' militia
politics seen in many African countries - especially Ghana's
neighbouring country of Nigeria - what they call violence in Ghana
is perhaps less than what goes on in your average student union
elections on a university campus.
Ghana is one of few countries on this continent that has an
entrenched dominant two party political system. This is largely due
to the personal hegemony and radical politics of the late Osagyefo
(Akan for 'redeemer'), Kwame Nkrumah. You were either for him or
against him, but never indifferent. Nkrumah stood for radical
nationalism and socialist pan-Africanism, while those against him
generally opposed both subscribing to ethnic jingoism or a 'little
Ghana' mentality. Of course not all those opposed to Nkrumah were
reactionaries or ethnic jingoists, but generally they were allied
to these negative approaches as a means of countering him.
Since that ignoble day of 24 February 1966 when the forces of local
reaction and their external imperialist masters overthrew Nkrumah's
regime, subsequent regimes in Ghana - whether military or civil -
have been judged, consciously or unconsciously, in relation to this
president. Even when the Convention People's Party (CPP) and later
other parties were banned neither the military dictatorships nor
their compliant civilian regimes could extinguish the CPP or other
parties from the hearts and mind of Ghanaians. This is what is
generally referred to as the Danquah-Busia and Nkrumahist divide in
Jerry Rawlings's abortive revolution and subsequent military
dictatorship of some 10 years and period of reluctant
democratisation during another 10 years failed to establish a third
force in Ghanaian politics. His hold on power was always mediated
by both a willing and unwilling sectarian collaboration with
different pro-Nkrumah forces. In the minds of many
pro-Danquah-Busia elements in Ghanaian politics there is any case
no distinction between Nkrumah and Rawlings (whom many radicals
will call an anti-Nkrumah); they are both considered 'verandah
boys' who incited the barbarians not just to the gates but into the
President John Kufuor and the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) victory
in 2000 was the first time in the history of Ghana that the
Danquah-Busia tradition won a legitimate popular vote. Busia's
victory in 1969 occurred largely because the military cleared the
political field of the CPP and their allies and gave his long-term
sparring partner Nkrumah a walk over.
The NPP's victory was partly a reaction against the long-term rule
of Rawlings and the excesses of his first ten years in power. The
fear that he was going to rule by proxy through his chosen
successor, Arthur Mills, and the willingness of many Nkrumahists to
cross the political divide gave Kufuor his victory. Kufuor's own
'gentle giant' personality and a series of lucky breaks, along with
continuing doubts about Arthur Mills as an ineffectual Rawlings
poodle and relatively stable economic growth, delivered Kufuor's
NPP an easy second term. Kufuor did not have to do anything
significant to gain his victory, but was simply lucky to be at the
right place at the right time to generate a 'feel good factor'. For
instance, Ghana's 50th anniversary found him there, as well as the
African Cup Of Nations, while numerous international meetings put
Accra on the global map as a desirable location. But by 2008 things
appear to be falling into a familiar historical shape. NPP rule is
a class rule with all its ideological and political triumphalism.
They represent the voice of privilege, the propertied classes and
The presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Akuffo-Ado, foreign
minister for seven years under Kufuor, is an able individual, but
his party could not deliver a broader social and political base for
him to clinch the presidency on the first run. Neither could Jerry
Rawlings's popularity and the increasing identification of Arthur
Mills as his own man give him a 50 per cent plus majority. Hence
the need for a run-off on 28 December. This stalemate has made the
votes of a resurgent CPP and other Nkrumahist parties like the
People's National Convention (PNC) and individuals a deciding
factor. It was important that Nkrumah's daughter, Samia Nkrumah,
stood and won her parliamentary seat on a CPP platform. She could
become the anchor for a new generation of Nkrumahists in Ghanaian
It is difficult to see how Nana could defeat Mills in the run off.
People no longer see the NDC candidate as Rawlings' man but a
candidate for change.
Ghana: Presidential Elections - The Pride of African Democracy
Jamiu is a media consultant and columnist
Daily Independent (Lagos)
7 January 2009
At last, Africa has something good to celebrate. It is a big relief
that it is not all bad news from Africa. Ghana last week made the
whole of Africa proud when against all expectations; it carried out
a free, fair and transparent election in which an opposition
candidate defeated a candidate of the ruling party.
The election and subsequent declaration of Professor John
Atta-Mills as President-elect has shown that Africa is capable of
conducting an internationally acclaimed free and fair election. It
also shows that not all African leaders are afflicted with the bug
of sit-tight syndrome and do-or-die politics. The Presidential
election was keenly contested between Professor John Atta-Mills of
the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Akufo-Addo of the
ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) that produced the out-going
President John Kufuor.
The first round of the Presidential election held on December 7,
2008 did not produce a clear winner though Akufo-Addo had a slight
lead but it was not enough to return him as winner. Therefore, a
run-off election was held on December 28 and it became
controversial as there were claims and counter claims of electoral
malpractices from both parties but there were no enough prove to
back them up. In the midst of the controversy which surrounded the
run-off election, words sneaked out that Professor Atta-Mills had
won; an information which sent his supporters into wild jubilation.
The Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) was quick to tell the
supporters of Atta-Mills that results of the election were yet to
be officially announced more so when voting did not take place in
the Tain region and unpleasant report of malpractices in the
Ashanti and Volta regions. The Ghana Electoral Commission did not
announce the result of the election until election was conducted in
the Tain region on January 3, 2009. The ruling NPP went to court to
stop the EC from conducting election in the Tain region but the
court refused its application. Thereafter, the NPP boycotted the
election but it held all the same. At the end of the polls,
Chairman of the EC, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan declared Professor
Atta-Mills winner with 4, 501,466 or 50.13 per cent votes to beat
his rival Nana Akufo Addo who polled 4, 478,411 or 49.87 per cent.
There is no doubt that this margin in a Presidential election is
close. It is worthy of note that throughout the election, there was
no incident of ballot stuffing, ballot snatching and multiple thumb
printing. Also incidents of thugs backed by the coercive powers of
the state harassing voters and disrupting voting in the process
were not recorded.
When I reflected on the outcome of the Ghana Presidential election,
I felt ashamed of my own country, Nigeria and the shameful conduct
of the April 2007 elections. It now brought home the fact that
Nigeria 's INEC Chairman Professor Iwu, ex-President Olusegun
Obasanjo and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party were responsible
for the present parlous state of our democracy as they had visited
untold and unpardonable electoral heist on Nigeria. Ex-President
Obasanjo grossly abused, misused and bastardized the power of
incumbency, Professor Iwu betrayed Nigerians as he became an
instrument in the hands of Obasanjo and the PDP by making sure that
almost all PDP candidates were returned. If what happened in Ghana
were to happen in Nigeria under President Obasanjo, the result of
the election will never see the light of the day. .... Compared to
the out going Ghanaian President, Kufuor, I was happy for once that
hope is not lost for Africa's redemption from backwardness,
negative reports and crass underdevelopment imposed on her by sittight
leaders in the mold of Robert Mugabe, Obasanjo and Mwai
Kufuor, like ex-President Mogae of Botswana who won the Mo Ibrahim
Prize for leadership, are good examples of leaders to be emulated
by other African leaders. President Kufuor departed from the usual
norm of abusing the power of incumbency by allowing the will of the
people to prevail in refusing to influence in any way, the result
of the Presidential election. He instead appealled to both
candidates to play according to the rules and urged them to accept
the outcome of the election even when he knew that his candidate
might not win. This is commendable and Kufuor should be celebrated
as a hero.
The outcome of the Ghanaian Presidential election has gone a long
way to deepening democracy in that country and it is capable of
having a multiplier effect on other African countries. President
Kufuor also defeated a candidate of the ruling party to emerge
President and now, another candidate has defeated a candidate of
his own ruling party, and this is how democracy is run all over the
world contrary to the wuruwuru (fraudulent) democracy of Obasanjo
which he dubiously dubs - home grown democracy.
There is nothing like home grown democracy. Democracy all over the
world is universal and it is the main source of legitimacy for
governments which has its main element as periodic elections that
must be free, fair and transparent. Anything short of this is not
democracy and it cannot confer legitimacy on any government
emerging from such a sham as we had in Nigeria in April 2007.
We should congratulate Ghana for emerging as one of the countries
with an enduring democracy arising from strengthening of her
institutions. One does not need any seer to know that leaders like
President Kufuor would be in hot demand by international
organizations for many noble assignments unlike some of his peers
who had become despised, idle, irrelevant and lonely after leaving
office. Ghana does not need to go scouting for foreign investors
but her democratic credentials as a stable country is all she
needed to attract them; more so when her state of infrastructure is
not that bad. While welcoming Ghana to the comity of decent
nations, the question remains, when will Nigeria get it right?
Ghana: Our Democracy Has Come of Age
6 January 2009
Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra)
For the second time in the history of this country, Ghanaians have
changed government through the ballot box. The process began in
2000 when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, led by
former President Rawlings lost power and peacefully handed over to
its opponent, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by President
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, President Kufuor would also
hand over power to the President-elect, Professor John Fiifi Atta
Mills on Wednesday, after his party lost the elections to the NDC.
Though, it is the NDC that has officially won the elections, The
Chronicle thinks the credit must be given to the good people of
Ghana, who have accepted the use of the ballot box to change
Credit must also be given to the New Patriotic Party and its
leader, Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo-Addo, who has accepted defeat and
gone ahead to congratulate the president-elect.
The attitude of Nana Addo, Professor Mills and the entire country
has indeed demonstrated that Ghana has come to accept democracy as
the way forward.
Whilst congratulating Ghanaians for deciding to use the ballot box
to elect their leaders, we must be honest to point out that events
leading to the final declaration of the results might have dented
the image of this country.
First, it was supporters of the NDC who stormed the Electoral
Commission offices in Accra to protest against what could best be
described as rumours about purposed rigging.
Hours later, supporters of the NPP also decided to emulate their
NDC counterparts by going to the same EC offices to protest against
alleged cheating. These two incidents sent wrong signals to the
outside world that Ghana was about to plunge into war.
Foreigners who have invested billions of dollars into our economy
were equally concerned about the situation, because should there be
any war, their investment can not be guaranteed.
Fortunately for us, the situation did not degenerate into war as
the outside world were anticipating, which is a mark of good
democracy. Nevertheless, we at The Chronicle wish to appeal to
leaders and supporters of both NPP and NDC never to allow this
incident to happen again. The two parties must have confidence in
the EC, which is an impartial body.
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