Ghana, Africa’s second leading producer of gold and recent member of oil producing nations, is parading two leading politicians for the December 7 presidential election, against 10 others.
The 76-year-old Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, incumbent president of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), is squaring up with 61-year-old former president John Dramani Mahama, of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Ghana which conducted its first national elections in 1960 after independence in 1957, has been noted as a model of democracy since it shed military rule in 1992.
With a population of more than 29 million and about 17 million registered voters, the December 7 election is a litmus test for a successful peaceful transfer of power between its two main rival political parties.
Currently under a unitary government, Ghana is holding a contest dubbed the “battle of two giants.” The country is bordered by the Ivory Coast to the West, Burkina Faso to the North, Togo to the East, the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean to the South.
The choice of Akufo-Addo by NPP as presidential candidate is setting up a third consecutive head-to-head battle against Mahama. Akufo-Addo defeated Mahama in 2016 with 53.8 percent of the vote. Mahama of NDC defeated Akufo-Addo in the 2012 poll.
The campaigns revolve around the issues of economy, infrastructure development, education, corruption, and debt relief.
In his estimation, President Akufo-Addo cites economic growth during his current four-year term and free schooling for senior high school pupils as major achievements. Mahama is also parading many infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, achieved during his tenure as platforms and which he believes qualifies him to win the election.
Mr Mahama has promised to turn around the Gold Coast if elected again.
In the general election, voters will elect 275 legislators from 914 candidates and to win the presidency, a candidate needs to gain at least 50 per cent of the national in the first round. There will be over 33,000 polling stations. As the presidential election draws nearer, election observers and messages have continued to pour in from leaders.
The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Iain Walker, said the United Kingdom will deploy 100 election observers for the general election.
Peace, stability calls
He said: “We will work with our Australian, Canadian and colleagues from the European Union and the electoral commission. I think we have about 100 people observing the elections.”
The European Union Election Observation Mission has deployed 40 long-term observers across the country’s 16 regions, and will focus on rural as well as urban areas.
The mission’s Deputy Chief Observer, Marian Gabriel said: “In the course of their work they will meet local electoral officials, candidates and representatives from political parties in each region, as well as civil society and the media.”
The Economic Community of West African States and African Union also have stand-by election observers that sustain transparent and honest elections in West Africa.
In a November 28 letter to leaders of the various political parties, Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the two main political parties to ensure that peace and stability are maintained no matter the outcome of the polls.
Mr Obasanjo said West Africa and the continent are counting on the patriotism of the leaders of the parties during and after the election.
Most Rev Philip Naameh, president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference advised political parties and youth groups to respect the electoral laws and to conduct themselves in a manner that would promote peace and unity in the country.
Rev Naameh spoke on November 22 at the Moral Community’s Peace Conference organised by the Northern Development and Democratic Institute, and said that Ghanaians needed peace, during and after the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.
He commended the Electoral Commission for its efficient preparation for the polls and called on all the political parties and other stakeholders to endeavour to support the work of the Commission for transparency for the nation’s overall good.
He advised the youth to remember the tremendous sacrifices made by the country’s leaders to keep the peace and advised them to conduct themselves in ways that will enhance the peace.
Rev Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, chairman of the National Peace Council, also appealed to all political parties and parliamentary candidates to conduct their campaigns peacefully, with dignity.
Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the UN General Secretary, said the elections are important for the nation as they are significant for Africa.
“The elections will be another opportunity for Ghana to showcase its enviable democratic credentials and for the region to once again recount a success story of democratic consolidation.”
In compliance with Covid-19 measures, the country conducted special voting on December 1, for electoral officials, security agencies, including the military, the police, the National Intelligence Bureau, the Fire Service, the Prisons Service and the Immigration Service, the National Ambulance Service, as well as journalists.
The process was characterised by a high turnout, orderliness and well-functioning electoral machines and devices.