ACCRA, Ghana – Voters lined up early in Ghana to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections that are likely to test the credibility of the West African state as one of the most politically stable countries on the continent.
There are 12 presidential candidates, including three women, and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (76) of the New Patriotic Party and former President John Dramani Mahama (62) of the National Democratic Congress are projected to lead. The two of them were already facing each other. Mahama won the 2012 election but lost to Akufo-Adda in 2016. If either of the two heavyweights wins, he will serve a second and final term under current constitutional restrictions. Each candidate must win more than 50% of the vote to avoid the second round.
More than 17 million are registered to vote at more than 38,000 polling stations across the country, and polling stations are divided so that the queues are shorter in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. Voters are also voting for 275 seats for which 918 parliamentary candidates are running.
Ghana has held peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections for almost two decades – this will be the eighth consecutive election since the country’s return to multi-party democracy in 1992. Many eyes have focused on the election as a test of democracy following elections in Guinea and Ivory Coast. the leaders held power for a third term after constitutional changes that were sharply challenged by opposition groups.
Many hope that the elections in Ghana will also be peaceful, although there have been reports of several armed attacks in the northern and central regions. More than 62,000 security personnel have been sent to polling stations to maintain law and order, Police Inspector General James Oppong-Boanuh said.
In a state show on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo said it was his responsibility to guarantee the peace of the nation and said it was crucial that today’s vote be in an atmosphere of peace and security, free from intimidation and violence.
“The Ghanaian people have the right to perform their civic duties in peace and freedom,” he said, adding that security services had assured him that appropriate preparations had been made.
“They convinced me of their determination to perform their duties without fear or affection. “The inappropriate behavior of any citizen, regardless of political color, will not be tolerated,” he said.
Both Akufo-Addo and the former president of Mahama ran campaigns on anti-corruption platforms while trading charges against each other.
In his Sunday address, Akufo-Addo added: “The whole world is watching us to maintain our status as beacons of democracy, peace and stability. In this fourth republic, we have had the longest, uninterrupted period of stable, constitutional administration in our history, banishing the specter of instability that has marred the early years of our nation’s existence, and the benefits are showing. “
Former President Maham at a rally over the weekend told those gathered, “this election is a rescue mission of a president who has lost all idea of helping build the country and who has been accused of corruption all along.”
The chairman of the election commission, Jean Mensa, promised credible, fair, orderly and peaceful elections.