Ghana 2012: the results are in

By Oliver Griffin

Ghana’s 2012 election campaign has come to a close; incumbent president John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has narrowly won in the poles to secure a four year term in office. Although there have been a few unsubstantiated claims of foul play and vote rigging, these seem half hearted. Since the end of military rule in 1992, Ghana has enjoyed successive peaceful elections with few incidences of trouble or violence – now that the elections are over, the rest of Africa will wait with baited breath to see if this will be yet another non-violent transition from one term to another. Despite the levels of unrest exhibited in neighbouring countries during their elections, Ghana’s ‘model democracy’ has often been held as a ‘beacon of hope’ in West Africa, providing a stabilising influence in the region.

Anxieties were present in this election; Mr Mahama only took over as president earlier this year when his predecessor, John Atta Mills, died of stroke in July. The proximity of Mr Mills’ death raised concerns over potential complications in the course of the election, not least because he had previously been expected to run for another term in office. At present, Ghana is a flourishing world nation, the president of which will oversee perhaps some of the biggest spending the country has ever witnessed. With the discovery of oil off the coast of the twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana and its fast developing economy, have been thrust into international focus. As the second biggest exporter of cocoa in Africa after the Cote d’Ivoire, and a major gold mining nation, Ghana is rich in natural resources. Currently hailed as a ‘growth gem’ by investment bankers, Ghana is expected to maintain a growth rate of 8% next year, which, coupled with the slump still being felt in Europe and America, makes it one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

The main opposition faced by Mr Mahama in the election was Nana Akufo-Addo, leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). NPP lost the vote only marginally, securing approximately 47.74% of the vote, while Mr Mahama’s NDC won with 50.70%. Ghana’s plethora of smaller political groups gained less than 2% of the vote between them, with the majority choosing between the two main parties. Mr Akufo-Addo previously criticised the lack of jobs that the NDC had created amidst such a spending boom and had promised to turn money into jobs for Ghanaians throughout the country. It is widely speculated that as the son of a previous president, he had been ‘out of touch’ with the many poverty stricken of Ghana, who make just under £3 a day. In a country where education is deemed vitally important, it is perhaps possible that Mr Mahama’s promises of free primary and secondary education may have just tipped the balance in his favour.

As Ghana comes to grips with the results of this election, the world will watch to see what happens next. If the claims of corruption can be proven, it will be a massive blow to African democracy and stability in the West African region; if not, then Ghana is surely in for a prosperous four years as oil reserves begin to fuel its economy.

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