In DepthColumnsGhana's democratic virginity bites the dust


Posted on Thursday, 13 December 2012 17:16

Ghana's democratic virginity bites the dust

Another election in a fledging African democracy, another angry opposition party contesting the verdict of the electoral commission.


This all too familiar chorus does not shock anybody, for electioneering, fraud, violence, misconduct have all become the mainstay of democratic governance on the continent.

And yet... this time the brouhaha is coming from Ghana. Hitherto, the Black Star darling of the West has been feted for successfully conducting five elections, the last in 2008 when the loosing incumbent surrendered power to an opposition that won by the tiniest of margins.

Fast forward to 2012 and you find the New Patriotic Party (NPP) refusing to accept the results announced by Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan, the electoral commissioner, late Sunday night.

The opposition's accusations of fraud against the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) have even prompted the founder of the ruling party, Jerry John Rawlings, to call on appropriate authorities to investigate the concerns of the opposition.

At this stage the President elect remains incumbent John Dramani Mahama who never faced his party's primaries (nor did he face former First Lady, Konadu Rawlings who fought tooth and nail till the very end to represent the NDC and later the NDP), after he was sworn in as President following the demise of his predecessor, John Evans Atta Mills.

The accusations of the opposition revolve around the falsification of results to favour an incumbent party that has also been accused by elements of the local media of smuggling in communication equipments from Israel to intercept the transmission of figures from various constituencies around the country to the head office of the electoral commission in Accra.

Speaking off the record, some leading NPP members have said that it looks as if in some cases the delayed transmission of results was due to a fraudulent manipulation of figures.

Meanwhile, leading radio stations sympathetic to the opposition are also accusing the National Communication Authority of jamming their signals making it difficult for them to reach their listeners.

Add all this to the police's denial of their own raid of opposition NPP's head office amid eye witness reports to the contrary, and an electoral commissioner who has been accused of not being impartial, and you are left confused as to the democratic nature of events.

The conduct of the 2012 election in Ghana may have been free but not fair hence the agitations of the opposition. Ghana's democracy though is not to be ruled as broken just yet because there still remains a judicial process where the aggrieved opposition is seeking redress.

Whilst some may not agree with the decision to go to court, this might prove to be an excellent test of the West African country's emblematic separation of powers and independent judiciary.

The judgment pronounced after the legal process and the nation's reaction to the judicial decision may prove to be the salve that will restore the integrity of Ghana's young democracy.

Prince Ofori-Atta

Prince Ofori-Atta

Prince M. Ofori-Atta is the editor of He is a founding member of World Radio Paris, a community radio station in Paris, France. He is also a member of the Paris-based Cercle Andrew Young, a journalism Think Tank. Ofori-Atta edited between 2008 and 2011.

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