Ghana holds presidential, parliamentary elections on 7 December

An electoral official tears a presidential ballot paper during the Presidential and parliamentary election, in Kibi, eastern Ghana, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. AFP.

Ghana holds presidential and parliamentary elections on 7 December with 17.029 million voters expected to cast their ballots.

There is high expectations about the vote, especially as it is the first time a sitting president is being challenged by a former president. Voters will also elect 275 parliamentarians from 914 candidates.

The Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) said the election will kick off with some 109,400 members of the security services, journalists and special service workers who will be on duty on 7 December voting on 1 December.

The main presidential contestants are President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 76, of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and former President John Dramani Mahama, 62, of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), although there are 10 other candidates, including two women and one independent candidate, on the ballot. President Akufo-Addo and former President have faced each other twice with each winning one contest.

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The other candidates include Christian Kwabena Andrews (Ghana Union Movement); Ivor Kobina Greenstreet (Convention People’s Party); Akua Donkor (Ghana Freedom party); and Henry Herbet Lartey (Great Consolidated Popular Party).

The others are Hassan Ayariga (All People’s Congress); Kofi Akpaloo (Liberal Party of Ghana); David Apasera (People’s National Convention); Brigitte Dzogbenuku (Progressive People’s Party); Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings (National Democratic Party) and Asiedu Walter (Independent).

This is the eighth presidential and parliamentary election since Ghana’s Fourth Republic was born in 1992, putting an end to military coups that truncated the First Republic on 24 February 1966, the Second Republic on 13 January 1972 and the Third Republic on 31 December 1981.

The vote is largely seen as another building block in the country’s strong desire to build a truly reliable and effective democratic state that drives development.

Hence the emphasis on a free and fair election as well as for peaceful vote, given the violence that has characterized elections in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea in recent weeks.

The EC has created 38,622 polling stations and voting will be between 0700 and 1700 GMT. Results are expected in 24 hours, according to the EC, although the law gives 72 hours.

In the presidential race, the winner must have more than 50 per cent of the votes to be declared winner in the first round else there will be a run-off in three weeks.

The Parliamentary vote is determined by a simple majority. The centre-right NPP currently dominates parliament with 169 seats while the centre-left NDC has 106.

With security a key issue, there are calls for the security agencies to be ready to snuff out any security threats by individuals and groups who may want to disrupt the vote. Security officers will be stationed at each polling station, with extra security at some 4,000 identified “flashpoints”.

As the campaign winds down on 5 December, the candidates have been sharpening their messages with the main issues centring on the economy, jobs, social intervention, infrastructural development, huge government debt and corruption, among others.

President Akufo-Addo has been highlighting economic achievements of his government until last March when the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc, virtually wiping out the gains.

He said he has done enough to secure the trust of the electorate, saying, “In the December elections, let it be four more years for Nana (Akufo-Addo) to do more for you.”

President Akufo-Addo has said his government’s flagship free Senior High School (SHS) policy has transformed education in the country and impacted every family. His infrastructure projects have also been success, he said.

He has repeatedly said that former President Mahama cannot be trusted with running the country again as he is indecisive and ran the economy into a ditch when he was president from 2013-2017.

However, President Mahama has been touting his massive infrastructure of roads, bridges, fly overs, schools and hospitals, among others, as evidence of his hard work that impact the lives of the people in every corner.

He has also been highlighting huge government debt of 76.7% debt to GDP ration by the end of the year as estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as evidence of a badly managed economy.

Former President Mahama has also been pointing at several corruption scandals that have rocked the government over the past four years, and asking the electorate to vote out President Akufo-Addo who is “literally bathing in corruption”.

Three surveys that were released last week gave President Akufo-Addo the edge in the vote but former President Mahama says he is sure to carry the day.

The former president, who turned 62 on Sunday, said: “I wish all Ghanaians the best and I feel blessed to be alive in very good health at 62 years of age…I wish that everybody has a healthy and long life. We look forward to a peaceful election and that let the will of God prevail in whoever he decides to lead this nation for the next four years. He should let the person prevail in the election.” (PANA/NAN)

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