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Offbeat Ghana: for the third time, the presidential election will be played between Nana Akufo-Addo and John Mahama

18:30  06 december  2020
18:30  06 december  2020 Source:   france24.com

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Des partisans du président sortant Nana Akufo-Addo lors d'un meeting à Accra samedi 5 décembre. © Francis Kokoroko, Reuters Supporters of outgoing President Nana Akufo-Addo during a meeting in Accra on Saturday 5 December.

Ghanaians are called to the polls on Monday for the legislative and presidential elections. They will have to separate the outgoing president, Nana Akufo-Addo, from his lifelong rival, John Mahama. This is the third time in 10 years that the presidential election opposes the two men.

Ghana, example of democracy in West Africa, is preparing to choose its president on Monday, December 7, in a ballot that promises to be tight between two long-standing political opponents. The latter pledged, Friday, not to promote any violence during the vote and the proclamation of the results.

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President Nana Akufo-Addo, 76, candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is running for a second term against his predecessor John Mahama, 62, opposition leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

In the streets of Accra on Friday, only the miniature flags of the main parties hung on lampposts recalled the holding of presidential and legislative elections in less than 72 hours. Candidates' t-shirts, usually worn during an election period, have been kept at home. No big meeting or animation, activists go door to door, and voters are encouraged to go to the polls by SMS.

Deja vu

This year, the campaign has taken a different turn because of the coronavirus pandemic and a certain weariness. This election has an air of déjà vu: in 2012 and 2016, the two main candidates had already clashed to access the supreme office. Each narrowly won one of the two ballots.

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"This election is that of the balance sheets," said Bernard Twum-Ampofo, an official interviewed in the capital. "You have to compare the balance sheets of the two main candidates (...) and choose the best one."

The current president "established free high schools" and John Mahama "gave us the infrastructure", he said, specifying that he had not yet made his choice.

Eleven other candidates, including three women, are also in the running, but their chances of winning are slim, as the two main parties have dominated political life since the establishment of democracy 28 years ago.

"On Monday I will go to the polls because Ghana needs a third force," said Gifty Inkoom, a student nurse. We are tired of the politics of the NDC and the NPP. "

The contenders will have to convince the 17 million Ghanaian voters, more than half of whom are under 35 years old.

Unemployment, infrastructure, education and health are the main issues. Since the 2000s, this country rich in gold, cocoa and more recently oil, has experienced strong growth. And the rate of extreme poverty has been halved in less than twenty-five years. But some regions, especially in the North, continue to live in extreme poverty, without drinking water or electricity. Above all, the crisis caused by the coronavirus has hit the country hard, whose growth this year is expected to fall to 0.9%, according to the IMF, the lowest rate in more than thirty years.

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The outgoing president has been praised for his management of this crisis, and he has kept some of his promises, particularly on education and access to electricity, but he has disappointed with its main commitment: actively fighting corruption.

"Peace pact" between the candidates

In November, the special anti-corruption prosecutor resigned, accusing Nana Akufo-Addo of obstruction in his work.

For his part, John Mahama will have to make people forget the accusations of economic mismanagement, which had prevented his re-election. This year, however, he can count on his running mate, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, a former Minister of Education, renowned for integrity and from the Center, a key region to win the election.

Until now, Ghana has always escaped post-election violence, unlike many of its West African neighbors. The campaign was marked by snags, however, with opponents accusing the Electoral Commission in particular of lack of neutrality.

The president and his main opponent signed a "peace pact" on Friday and pledged not to promote any violence during Monday's vote and the announcement of the results.

"I have confidence in the electoral process, and I am happy to say that we will accept the wish of the Ghanaian people," President Nana Akufo-Addo said at a symbolic ceremony in Accra.

"Peace, unity and security must be our first concern", he added.

For Kojo Asante of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development, the elections should go smoothly.

He also underlined the large number of international and local observers planned: "Everyone wants this election to go well. Because there are already too many hot spots to manage in this region".

With AFP

Ghana’s Opposition Leader Mahama Vows to Fight Vote Results .
Ghana’s main opposition leader challenged the results of Monday’s parliamentary and presidential elections, saying his party would take steps to get them overturned. John Mahama, the National Democratic Congress’ presidential candidate, got 47.4% of total valid votes cast, trailing President Nana Akufo-Addo’s 51.6%, according to results announced Wednesday by Ghana’s electoral commission.

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