January 13, 2009

Ghana's Successful Election

Photo: Bertil van Vugt/
Africa Interactive
This entry is a follow up from my post discussing how developing nations can learn from Ghana's recent presidential election and peaceful transition of power (see "Ghana: A Model for Democratic Elections"). The Economist published an article in its January 8th, 2009 edition about how Ghana held the November election and subsequent run-off election on December 28th fairly and with civility (see "A damned close-run thing—and a fine example to the rest of Africa").

After losing by small margin in the initial election against Nana Akufo-Addo, John Atta Mills won the run-off election that was so close, Mr. Mills won 50.2% of the vote compared to Mr. Akufo-Addo's 49.8%, Mr. Mills was not officially declared a winner until January 2nd. He was sworn in five days later. Although there were a few issues during the election process including "several reports of intimidation and attacks at polling stations during the run-off on December 28th, more so than in the first round of voting."

Ghanaians should be proud of the way they exercised their democratic freedom to elect their president. More importantly, Mr. Akufo-Addo's supporters should be commended for not replicating the unfortunate incidents of spilling bloodshed we witnessed in Kenya early last year.

"It was the smallest margin of victory in Africa's electoral history. Just as important as the result was the conduct of the poll—and the readiness of the loser to accept defeat with grace. After fiascos in Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe in the past couple of years, everyone in Africa (and abroad) was hoping that Ghana would start to redeem the continent’s tarnished democratic credentials with a fair poll. The power-sharing agreement that was meant to resolve last year’s electoral stand-off in Kenya seems increasingly shaky; the one in Zimbabwe was never implemented. Africa needed a decent election in one of its leading countries—and a loser who would concede defeat."

I congratulate Mr. Mills for his victory and I commend Mr. Akufo-Addo for his statesmanship to respect the electoral process. Ghanaians have several issues to resolve if the country is to become a regional and continent leader, but exercising their right to vote and ensuring a peaceful transition of power is a step in the right direction.

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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