Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ghana's Opposition Candidate Wins Presidency in 3rd Attempt

On the same day Gambia's incumbent president withdrew acceptance of his defeat by the oppostion in that country's presidential election, the opposition candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo (NPP), in Ghana's presidential election was announced the winner. The incumbent, John Mahama (NDC), promptly conceded defeat and there is no doubt he will continue to accept the election results.

Ghana is one of Africa's most consolidated democracies. This election is the seventh peaceful presidential election since multiparty elections were reintroduced in 1992, the third alternation of power between parties (following NDC->NPP in 2000 and NPP->NDC in 2008), and the first time an incumbent president was defeated.

Ghana's economy has been growing at 4%, which doesn't sound bad (it's average for the continent), but this is down from 14% in 2011 when the country started pumping oil. Since then, oil prices have come down and the government overspent, resulting in the need for an IMF bail-out last year. Its currency was the worst performing on the continent in 2014, when it lost 27% of value, which means inflation from higher-priced imports. Unemployment among the youth (15-24) is very high, an estimated 48%.

Akufo-Addo is a human rights lawyer who campaigned for multiparty democracy during the authoritarian rule of the PNDC, whose leadership formed the NDC. This year's presidential campaign was his third. In 2008, he received a plurality in the first round, with 48%, but narrowly lost in the second round with 49.8%. In 2012 he narrowly lost with 48% in the first round. This time he won decisively, with 54% versus 44% for Mahama. The NPP campaign emphasized "sustainable jobs through industrialization", promising construction of a factory in each of the country's 2016 provinces.

The NPP also benefits from support in the Ashanti region. The NPP Ashanti regional chairman predicted the NPP would win 90% of the votes in his region. The Ashanti are a major subgroup of the Akan, which is the largest ethnic group in Ghana, making up slightly less than half the population.

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