Ghana’s peaceful national election have won justified praise but the looming run-off election later this month may prove vulnerable to political passions. The West African country’s ruling New Patriotic Party was hardly shocked by the narrow result, which saw the opposition party of former president, Jerry Rawlings, denying a majority of the vote to NPP’s candidate. Current president, John Kufuor, an avuncular man known for personal rectitude and a lack of imagination, failed to put his favored candidate on the ballot; instead, one one of his most dour and uninspiring ministers, who in public appears to campaigning for a seat in Britain’s parliament, won the primary election. His rival is an aging Rawlings loyalist who lost twice to Kufuour by wide margins. But mass discontent is rising in Ghana because the country’s “macro” prosperity has failed to spread wide benefits and government service, never good, failed to improve under Kufuor, the complacent. Attah Mills, the candidate for National Democratic Congress, wisely chose a dynamic younger politician, John Mahama, as his vice president. Another Rawlings acolyte, Mahama is smart, articulate and drawn to the sort of economic that Ghana sorely needs after decades of elite-driven policies. Mills may yet lose the run-off yet the NDC already has won a stunning victory, by gaining more seats in Parliament than NPP. The ascendance of the opposition carries risks. Rawlings is a wild card; he never came to terms with Kufuor personally and has suggested, more than once, that extra-legal means of political resistance remain warranted in Ghana. Moreoever, his record as president brought as much shame as pride to Ghanains. Mills and Mahama, if they do win, must first and foremost settle the status of Rawlings, who ought to have any formal role in Ghana’s next government.
Dec 16 2008
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