Washington, DC — "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 selection)
For Ghanaian music on CDs, http://tinyurl.com/9odmx4
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 story?
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 election?
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 cent.
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 background.
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 Ghanaian politics.
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 castle.
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 regionalised capital.
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 politics.
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 Kibaki.
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 Kufuor.
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 governments.
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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