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OPINION: GHANA: Bastion Of African Democracy Goes To The Polls

Richard Rathbone, a political scientist, has described Ghana as "...always bewilderingly capable of doing unpredictable things and of doing them before anyone else".

The verdict of the political scientist sums up a roller coaster few years of democratic consolidation by this west African showpiece. beginning with the surprise alternation of power between a longtime leader and his opponents in the year 2001, Ghana has gone on to establish itself as an oasis of peace on a troubled continent.

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High stakes elections come up on December 7, and with disputed elections in recent times in two other West African States, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea, Ghana's ability to come out of its seventh general election unscathed will represent a refreshing departure from the unfortunate narrative of elections in the West African subregion this year.

But such a feat won't come easy; for the first time in the nation's history an incumbent president comes up against his predecessor, a man he dethroned four years ago, setting another novel record in Ghana's democratic resume.

Former President John Mahama's decision to stake a claim to the country's presidency after four years in opposition has dazed his opponents and renewed his rivalry with the incumbent president, Nana Akufo-Addo. The former president is hoping his spirited infrastructural drive whiles in power would convince voters to reward him with another four years as president.

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President Akufo-Addo, on the other hand, would be hoping that his government's implementation of its flagship Free SHS policy, coupled with an industrialization drive would convince voters that he deserves a second term. the ruling party has also been at pains to remind voters of Mahama's economic record whiles president, one that resulted in another stint with the international monetary fund in 2014. Coupled with reigniting images of the crippling power crisis that characterized most of Mahama's four years in power, the ruling party Hope's to portray the Former president as a risky gamble to voters.

The two candidates have roused their respective support base whiles crisscrossing the country in the last few weeks, in a frenzied attempt to win hearts. The campaign rhetoric has sometimes gone overboard, but it has large and thankfully been issue-based. Vice-president Mahamudu Bawumia, even found time in the course of the campaign to address a high profile audience made up of academics and students at the country's premier university, Legon, touting the Akufo-Addo administration's economic successes whiles repudiating that of the NDC.

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The issue of corruption has also featured prominently this election season, with the NDC calling into question Akufo-Addo's anti-corruption credentials. Matters weren't helped by the rather dramatic resignation of a special prosecutor, Martin Amidu citing interference from the president. As expected the opposition has latched on his words, quoting copiously portions of Amidu's widely publicized letter, written in the wake of his resignation indicting the president for corruption.

Various polls have within the last few days called the elections in favor of Akufo-Addo, but the opposition as expected has rubbished the projections.

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Messages of peace have rung out across the nation, with Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo penning an open letter to Mahama and Akufo-Addo, in which he urged the two statesmen to preserve the peace of the nation.

But many are agreed that Ghana has the pedigree to deliver credible elections and come out unscathed. the world will be watching with interest as Ghana takes another giant step towards consolidating her nascent democracy.

Credit: Rodney Tsenuokpor


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