Voters in Ghana will head to the polls on Monday to select the nation’s subsequent president, in what is anticipated to be a decent race between incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo and his predecessor, John Mahama.
The 2 longtime rivals, who’re squaring off for the third straight time as they search a second and closing time period, are extensively seen as the 2 frontrunners in a crowded subject of 12 candidates.
Campaigning has largely centered on the financial system, infrastructure growth and the dealing with of the COVID-19 pandemic. The combat towards corruption has additionally featured prominently within the lead-up to the election throughout which the political rivalry that has for the final decade outlined the campaigns of each Akufo-Addo, of the centrist New Patriotic Celebration (NPP), and Mahama, of the left-leaning Nationwide Democratic Congress (NDC), was largely on show.
“The candidates have spent extra time exchanging phrases quite than specializing in the challenges going through the folks,” mentioned Michael Opoku, a 54-year-old dealer in Kumasi, Ghana’s second metropolis.
“I need a greater Ghana that may assure my future. I’m not involved a lot about voting for a political celebration however my vote shall be for individuals who are out to make a distinction when elected into workplace,” he added.
Regardless of the heightened political tensions, the 2 main candidates on Friday signed a pact for good conduct and peaceable elections at a ceremony within the capital, Accra, that was attended by conventional and non secular leaders, in addition to worldwide observers.
Monday’s vote would be the eighth since Ghana’s first step in the direction of multiparty democracy in 1992. The nation has a robust file of easy transitions of energy and Ghanaians are hoping the nation will construct on its status as considered one of West Africa’s most steady democracies.
The NPP and the NDC have peacefully exchanged energy a number of occasions throughout the previous a long time however friction is excessive this 12 months amid opposition allegations over the independence of the electoral fee. Final month, Mahama alleged that the physique got down to organise “a flawed election” and threatened to reject the outcomes.
“Current occasions beneath the present administration have given many anxious moments of doubt about this administration’s capability to ship a peaceable, violence-free election,” Mahama, 62, mentioned at his speech throughout Friday’s peace pact-signing ceremony.
Electoral officers have dismissed the opposition’s accusations of trying to rig the elections.
“There may be already a lot stress on the bottom, particularly from the opposition, in regards to the seemingly end result of the election. The Electoral Fee ought to be honest to all,” mentioned Cynthia Ekow, a 29-year-old pupil in Accra.
For his half, Akufo-Addo, 76, promised that the desire of the voters shall be revered.
“We consider in elections, and I’m completely happy to provide my phrase that we will settle for the decision of the folks of Ghana,” he mentioned on the ceremony.
“Above all, I pledge that the peace, unity and security of Ghana shall be our major consideration.”
Professor Kwesi Aning, who’s the director of the College of Tutorial Affairs and Analysis on the Kofi Annan Worldwide Peacekeeping Coaching Centre in Accra, mentioned considerations in regards to the interval after the election had been actual.
“Although a peace pact has been signed to deal, particularly with the fallouts from the outcomes, work must be achieved to delicate grassroots supporters in regards to the regulation and the necessity to reply to disputes authorized,” he mentioned.
“The onus is on celebration leaders and buildings. From historical past, there’s a extensive chasm between the flowery phrases of peace and the pace with which battle drums are crushed when there are electoral disputes.”
Some 63,000 army and paramilitary officers have been deployed throughout the nation to keep up peace throughout the electoral course of and reply to any potential unrest.
Ghana is a serious cocoa, gold and oil producer. However its fast-growing financial system took a success throughout the coronavirus pandemic, deepening analysts’ considerations about excessive public debt ranges.
In April, the nation obtained $1bn in emergency funding from the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF) to deal with the influence of the pandemic, and the financial system is now projected to develop by as a lot as 1 p.c.
Each Akufo-Addo and Mahama have promised to enhance infrastructure regardless of the nation’s rising debt profile.
In latest weeks, Akufo-Addo has emphasised his authorities’s file on schooling and entry to electrical energy and pledged to construct a brand new airport within the nation’s central area.
Mahama has underlined the general public works accomplished throughout his 4 years in workplace (2012-2016) and promised to extend infrastructure spending if re-elected. He has additionally promised to offer free laptops to college college students.
The winner of the election shall be determined by a easy majority for a candidate who secures greater than 50 p.c of votes. A runoff election shall be held inside 21 days if no candidate meets the brink of votes forged.
In distinction to earlier elections, outcomes might be introduced by the electoral fee inside 24 hours after voting at about 39,000 polling stations unfold throughout the nation ends.
“We’re selling some effectivity into the system. We’ve got labored with our numbers and we now have a length inside which the outcomes ought to be transmitted,” electoral fee chairwoman Jean Mensa not too long ago advised journalists within the capital, Accra. “Due to the effectivity we now have launched into the processes, we must always be capable of declare outcomes inside 24 hours,” she mentioned.
“When outcomes are introduced on time, it reduces hypothesis in regards to the end result of the elections,” Ekow, the scholar, believed.
Among the many dozen candidates vying for the presidency are three ladies, together with Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the widow of former President Jerry Rawlings.
A complete of 275 parliamentary seats may also be for grabs in Monday’s polls.
Nonetheless, observers don’t anticipate energy to shift from both the NPP or the NDC anytime quickly.
Anning mentioned Ghanaians shall be voting “primarily for peace”.
“The narrative is that change has not come and if change when it comes to enhancements in folks’s lives is troublesome to realize, then they like peace in any respect value.