Previous rivals sq. up once more in Ghana’s tight presidential election | Ghana
Voters in Ghana will vote in elections on Monday to determine the country’s next president. This will be a tough race between reigning Nana Akufo-Addo and his predecessor John Mahama.
The two long-standing rivals, who face each other for the third year in a row looking for a second and final term, are widely recognized as the top two in a crowded field of 12 candidates.
The campaigns mainly focused on the economy, infrastructure development and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The fight against corruption has also played a prominent role in the run-up to the elections, in which the political rivalry that has shaped the campaigns of Akufo-Addo, the centrist New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Mahama of the left-wing National Democratic for the past decade Congress (NDC) could be seen for the most part.
“Candidates spent more time exchanging words than focusing on the challenges people are facing,” said Michael Opoku, a 54-year-old trader in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city.
“I want a better Ghana that guarantees my future. I am not so concerned about voting for a political party, but I will vote for those who want to make a difference in their election to office, ”he added.
Despite mounting political tensions, the top two candidates signed a pact for good behavior and peaceful elections at a ceremony in the capital Accra on Friday, attended by traditional and religious leaders as well as international observers.
Monday’s vote is the eighth since Ghana’s first step towards multi-party democracy in 1992. The country has a strong track record of smooth power transfers and Ghanaians hope the country will continue to build its reputation as one of the most stable democracies in West Africa.
The NPP and the NDC have peacefully exchanged power several times over the past few decades, but friction has been high this year amid opposition allegations about the independence of the electoral commission. Last month, Mahama claimed the panel set out to organize “a flawed election” and threatened to reject the results.
“Recent events under the current administration have sparked many anxious moments of doubt about the ability of this government to hold peaceful, non-violent elections,” said Mahama, 62, speaking at the peace pact signing ceremony on Friday.
Election officials have denied opposition allegations of attempting to rig the elections.
“There is already so much tension on the ground, especially from the opposition, over the likely outcome of the election. The electoral commission should be fair to everyone, ”said Cynthia Ekow, a 29-year-old student in Accra.
Akufo-Addo (76) for his part promised to respect the will of the electorate.
“We believe in elections and I am happy to give my word that we will accept the judgment of the people of Ghana,” he said at the ceremony.
“First of all, I promise that peace, unity and security in Ghana will be our primary concern.”
Professor Kwesi Aning, director of the faculty of academic affairs and research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Accra, said concerns about the post-election period were real.
“Although a peace pact has been signed, specifically addressing the consequences of the results, sensitive grassroots supporters must be made aware of the law and the need to respond to legal disputes,” he said.
“The responsibility rests with the party leaders and structures. There is a great gap in history between the flowery words of peace and the speed with which war drums are beaten in electoral disputes. “
Around 63,000 military and paramilitary officers were deployed across the country to maintain peace during the electoral process and to respond to possible civil unrest.
Ghana is a major cocoa, gold and oil producer. However, the fast-growing economy was hit during the coronavirus pandemic, adding to analyst concerns about the high national debt.
In April, the country received $ 1 billion in emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help cope with the effects of the pandemic, and the economy is expected to grow by up to 1 percent.
Both Akufo-Addo and Mahama have pledged to improve infrastructure despite the country’s rising debt profile.
In the past few weeks, Akufo-Addo has been highlighting its government’s record on education and access to electricity, and has committed to building a new airport in the central region of the country.
Mahama has underscored the public works completed during his four-year term (2012-2016) and pledged to increase infrastructure spending in the event of re-election. He has also promised to provide free laptops to university students.
John Mahama chose former Education Minister Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang as his runmate [Francis Kokoroko/Reuters]The election winner is determined by a simple majority for a candidate who receives more than 50 percent of the vote. A runoff election will take place within 21 days if no candidate reaches the voting threshold.
In contrast to previous elections, the electoral commission was able to announce the results within 24 hours of the vote at around 39,000 polling stations across the country.
“We encourage a certain efficiency of the system. We have worked with our numbers and we have a deadline for the results to be communicated, ”Electoral Commission Chair Jean Mensa recently told journalists in the capital, Accra. “Because of the efficiencies we’ve put into the processes, we should be able to declare results within 24 hours,” she said.
“If the results are announced in good time, speculation about the outcome of the elections will be reduced,” said the student Ekow.
Among the dozen candidates running for the presidency are three women, including Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, widow of former President Jerry Rawlings.
A total of 275 parliamentary seats will also be awarded in the elections on Monday.
Still, observers don’t expect power to shift from the NPP or the NDC anytime soon.
Anning said Ghanaians would vote “mainly for peace”.
“The narrative has it that there has been no change and when it is difficult to make change in terms of improvements in people’s lives, then they prefer peace at all costs.