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Ghana a definite ‘model African democracy’

Election 2012: The people are the winners as the “model African democracy” that is Ghana shows it is divided as ever in another tight election

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Seen as a model of democracy and stable governance in a sometimes volatile continent, Ghana lived up to that reputation with almost impeccably observed election. Current incumbent President John Mahama Dramani was declared the winner on Sunday night in tight contest which almost mirrored the contest of 2008.

The electoral commission said that Mr Mahama had won 50.7% against his NPP rival Nana Akufo-Addo on 47.74%. On a slightly sour note the opposition party, NPP claimed the poll was fraudulent and will contest the result, accusing the governing NDC party of conspiring with electoral commission staff to fix Friday’s poll. The NPP also claimed they had “enough concrete evidence” to prove that Mr Akufo-Addo had won the election.

Whether there is indeed evidence in existence to substantiate the NPP’s claims remains to be seen. What is clear though is the peaceful manner in which the Presidential ballot was carried out, and much of the credit for this must go the Ghanaian electorate themselves. Many voters turned up at the polls more than four hours before the sun was even up, standing inches apart in queues that in some places stretched 1,000-people deep. Each polling station had a single biometric machine, and if it failed to identify the voter’s fingerprint, or if it broke down, there was no backup. When it became clear that large numbers of people had not been able to vote, the election commission announced it would extend voting by a second day.

However this did not faze the Ghanaian people deeply attached to the tradition of democracy, with voters seen urging each other to remain calm while they waited their turn to vote. The result announced by the electoral commission showed how split the country is in regards to support of the two main parties and the direction the country should go. Naturally there will be a lot of disappointed NPP supporters at this time, however thankfully that disappointment has yet to turn into violence on a severe scale.

Ghana was once a troubled nation that suffered five coups and decades of stagnation, before turning a corner in the 1990s. It is now a pacesetter for the continent’s efforts to become democratic. No other country in the region has had so many elections deemed free and fair, a reputation voter’s hold close to their hearts.

In a country where the provocative style of politics followed by the two main parties does not help to diffuse tension between rival parties, the electorate did well not to rise to the bait dished out by some of their own leaders.

Whether or not we have heard the last of this election result, one thing is for sure; the people of Ghana should yet again be applauded for their tolerance of the democratic process.

Long live democracy in Ghana!

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)