On December 7, 2016, the onetime world’s leading cocoa producing West African nation of Ghana once again, reasserted her most enviable position as Africa’s beacon of hope for democratic governance and also the continent’s most peaceful nation since 1992.
Earlier Call for Peaceful Polls
Ahead of the elections, a lot was invested locally towards the need to maintain peace before, during and after the elections in form of prayers, the Accra Declaration, civic education, and peace campaigns messages by private corporate, state and nongovernmental institutions, among others.
The Commonwealth and the African Union (AU) observer groups in Ghana to monitor the December 7 general election also urged Ghanaians to hold peaceful elections to Ghana as a big brother for some other African countries, “for which reason we want to see the elections of next week being conducted in an atmosphere of peace, in accordance with democracy,” he added.
For its part, a 17-member team of eminent persons drawn from across different regions of the Commonwealth said it looked forward to peaceful elections and called on Ghanaians to demonstrate their maturity in democracy.
The team was led by a former South African President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, on the orders of the Commonwealth Secretary General, Ms Patricia Scotland, and comprised dignitaries from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Speaking on arrival in Accra ahead of the general election, the former President of Namibia and leader of the AU Election Observation Mission, Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba, said the AU looked forward to free, fair and transparent elections that would be devoid of violence.
“We are aware of the significance of these elections to the people of Ghana. Our presence here affirms the support of the Commonwealth to the country and its democratic process”. he said.
Joint Pre-election Statement of International election Observation Missions in Ghana
A day before the elections, the European Union, African Union, ECOWAS, Commonwealth and National Democratic Institute issued a joint statement on the relating to the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
“We, the heads of the international election observation missions in the Republic of Ghana listed below, cognizant of the signing of the Accra Declaration on 1 December 2016, facilitated by the National Peace Council, wish to congratulate the presidential candidates in the upcoming elections for demonstrating their commitment to democratic, credible and peaceful elections.
“We wish to appeal to all Ghanaians to adhere to the pledge made by the political leaders as enshrined in the Declaration before, during and after the polls. We further urge stakeholders to conduct themselves in such a manner that reflects the aspirations of the Declaration, which is a commitment to peaceful elections and judicial resolution of election disputes.
“We recognize Ghana’s strong and resilient institutions that have in the past been able to handle challenges in a peaceful and constructive manner. We hope that this tradition will continue furthering the consolidation of Ghana’s democratic credentials. Should any of the stakeholders feel dissatisfied with the election process, we urge that they channel their concerns through the established legal and institutional mechanisms.
“We reiterate our commitment to supporting the democratic process in the Republic of Ghana”.
The statement was endorsed by the following international dignitaries:
1. H. E. Hifikepunye Pohamba, former President of the Republic of Namibia, Head of the African Union Election Observation Mission
2. H.E. Professor Amos Sawyer, former President of the Interim Government of the Republic of Liberia, Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission
3. H.E. Thabo Mbeki, former President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Commonwealth Observer Group,4. Mr. Tamas Meszerics, Member of the European Parliament, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission.
5.Amb. Johnnie Carson, Former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, US State Department, Head of National Democratic Institute Election Observation Mission.
The following day, the nation having put aside the preceding issues EC’s disqualification of some Presidential candidates with ensuing legal battles in court, and the problematic Special Voting Exercise, the whistle was blown for seven Presidential candidates that for the first time included a woman.
They were namely, Nana Akuffo Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr.Edward Nasigri Mahama of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Dr.Paa Kwesi Ndoum of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet of the Convention People’s Party (CPP),Nana Konado Agyemang Rawlings of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and an independent candidate ,Jacob Osei Yeboah who were bent on clinching political power from the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
When the initial results started trickling in, it became clear as already generally expected that the race was a two horse one between the NPP and the incumbent NDC with the former coming out as the winner finally.
In the history of Ghana’s democratic governance this wasn’t the first time an incumbent fell to the opposition anyway. However, what was spectacular about 2016 elections was, the President Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, never had the least reason to doubt that the people weren’t going to speak in its favour against its major opponent, the National Patriotic Party (NPP).
Indeed, the elections can be best described as the mother of all elections in the country’s history. The government had absolute belief and faith in the people that they were going to reward it for the massive social and economic infrastructure put up across the various sectors of the national economy to lay a foundation for a smooth takeoff in 2017.The economic turbulence it had to go through with the people complicated by the long protracted energy crisis notwithstanding.
However, it happened that at the end of the day, the tables turned in favour of the opposition with the incumbent losing a lot of Parliamentary seats to the opposition, NPP much its bewilderment .The people had spoken and their will must be respected and in tandem with President Mahama’s earlier pledge to accept the outcome of the elections either positive or negative.
Results Score-Presidential and Parliamentary
For the Presidential elections, the Presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Akuffo Addo, now President-elect, got 53.85% with an over one million votes margin to unseat sitting President John Dramani who got 44.40% .
For the Parliamentary elections, the NDC lost 49 seats to the NPP with the seat share in Parliament also going in favour of NPP that has 171 seats and the NDC 107.
The Contentious Issues-Challenges and Irregularities
The polls on the Election Day were generally peaceful and smooth running safe for a few reported challenges and some major irregularities.
Challenges of delay of voting in some electoral areas and in the case of Gyaman in the Brong Ahafo region, voting had to be postponed till the following day. Coalition delays problems were also reported at a few centres.
1. Early Self Declaration of Victory
Major of the irregularities to which the ruling NDC took serious exception, was the hasty self-declaration of victory by the NPP, first through a press conference followed by social media posts that called on its opponents including the Presidential candidate of the ruling NDC government to concede defeat.
The incumbent did not take kindly to that and also came out to make a counter claim through a Press conference stating that President Mahama was in a comfortable lead but NDC wouldn’t declare the results like the NPP did because it was a law abiding party.
This prompted the National Peace Council to call the two parties especially the NPP to other.
The Ruling NDC’s beef
The beef of the NDC was, if the NPP really had won the elections why the hurry and pressure mounting on the EC which alone has the constitutional duty to declare elections as required by law but not under duress from any political party whatsoever?.
This it contended, was against the background that the NPP had in the same fashion declared itself the winner in the past 2004 and 2012 elections. Furthermore, some NDC supporters pointed out that the NPP had even boldly hinted earlier in June this year that it was going to declare its own elections results during this year’s elections and really did do so without recourse to the fact that, only the EC has the constitutional right to do so by the laws of the nation.
2. The alleged PNC’s Dr.Edward Mahama’s Congratulatory Message
NPP sources alleged that one of the contestants, the Presidential candidate of the Peoples National Convention (PNC) Dr.Edward Mahama, had on the elections day around midnight when others were yet to vote, the following morning, conceded defeat and congratulated its Presidential candidate, Nana Akuffo Addo Danquah.He was also alleged to have called on other contestants including sitting President Mahama to also concede defeat. The congratulatory message was allegedly done by the medical doctor turned politician, through his facebook was and twitters post.
This was however later to be debunked through the Chairman of the PNC,Albert Monah in an interview with Graphic online which had also carried the allegation. According to the statement, Dr.Mahama denied ever having any such twitter handle.
3.Pressure on EC by NPP to declare the results Prematurely
After having earlier made a self-declaration of victory, the NPP continued to mount pressure on the EC to declare the election final results as soon as possible in its favour as it were, when the EC hadn’t at that moment even received half of the provisional results for the 275 constituencies let alone talk of releasing their certified results. More so; it hadn’t as yet exhausted the 72 hours’ mandatory time line within which it had indicated it would declare the final results of the elections.
Mrs. Charlotte Osei, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission expressed the Commission’s disappointment with the action of the parties especially the NPP and categorically stated the EC will not declare results collated by any political party.
“It’s only been 24 hours and this year we’ve had more polling stations than we’ve never had in previous elections,” she said, adding the Commission has the duty to ensure that results put in the public are accurate.
She debunked claims from the NPP sources that the Commission wanted to tamper with the results faxed from the various constituency collation centers. “We cannot change the results, or manipulate it.”
Mrs. Osei added the Commission values accuracy in announcing polls results than speed adding, “The duty we owe the people of Ghana is not to declare results quickly, but accurately. That is the oath we took.”
4.EC stops ’compromised’ electronic collation of results as Process compromised
The Electoral Commission (EC) at one point had cause to stop the electronic transmission of results to the national collation centre from the constituency collation centres.
Chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Osei disclosed at a press conference that the commission was forced to call off the electronic transmission upon noticing that the process has been compromised.
“We agreed to make use of manual and electronic results transmission system and have reason to believe that it has been compromised and hence halted it…,” she said at the press conference.
She also said that the EC have a mandate to present to Ghanaians a credible result and that is exactly what the commission would do.
The EC boss said it had 59 certified results but have not been signed by the party representatives at the collation centre because they claim they want to see the pink sheets first.
5.The issue of Possible over Voting
Alleged over voting also came up for mention prompting the EC to declare in a statement that Election results from all the collation centers across the country were to be reviewed. The Commission said that was to check reports of over-voting from certain polling stations.
“It has come to the attention of the Commission that several possible instances of over voting have allegedly occurred at a number of polling stations. As a result of this, the Electoral Commission has decided to review all results from the collation centers and verify them against the physical pink sheets from polling station,” a statement from the EC said.
The EC further indicated that it will determine the appropriate actions to take if it is able to determine if any cases of over voting occurred in any polling station.
“…On verification of, and in line with, established administrative procedures the EC is able to determine if any over voting occurred in any polling station. Should any discrepancy occur the commission will meet to determine the appropriate actions.” Mrs.Osei declared.
“To ensure the integrity of the results of this Election thus multiple verification process is required. We call for patience and calm from all voters as the EC ensures that the Election results are in fact a true reflection of the will of the people,” the statement added.
The Head of the African Union Observer mission (AUEOM), former president of the Republic of Namibia, Hifikepunye Pohamba, however said the Mission did not record any instances of over-voting.
“We have not received any report of over-voting and the voters, those who cast their ballots are registered voters, meaning they are qualified to vote,” Mr. Pohamba said in response to a question posed by a local daily, DAILY GUIDE with respect to whether the Mission observed any instances of over-voting during the elections as had been alleged by the NDC.
Mr. Pohamba said this while releasing the preliminary findings of the AUEOM on Ghana’s December 7, 2016 presidential and parliamentary polls.
He however noted that, if at all there was over-voting, it would not be by those who were registered by the EC to vote but rather by Ghanaians living in neighbouring countries like Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, who he claimed, might have been smuggled into Ghana solely to illegally vote. He contended, that should have been taken care of by the national security personnel who were deployed across the country on Election Day.
The outlined major contending issues notwithstanding, President John Dramani Mahama following the declaration of the final results by the electoral Commission (EC) in favour of his major contender, Nana Akuffo Addo initially phoned him to congratulate him.
President-Elect, Nana Addo’s Victory Speech
In his victory speech, the President-elect, Nana Akuffo Addo Dankwah, touched on the crucial and substantive national issues, which in addition to his campaign promises constitute the herculean task ahead of him after clinching political power.
“Fellow Ghanaians, you have not elected me to serve one party, but to serve the entire nation. The President of Ghana is President for every single Ghanaian, without discrimination, malice or ill-will to any ethnic group or political or religious affiliation.
“Whether you supported me or not, whether you campaigned for me or not, whether you voted for me or not, I can promise you one thing. I will do my best to serve your interests, and put our country back on the path of progress and prosperity. God did not put us on this rich land, a land blessed with an abundance of human and natural resources, to be poor.
“I am confident, and I have faith that, with God’s guidance and your active help and hard work, we will move our country forward. Together, we will change Ghana, and use all the blessings that the Almighty has bestowed on us to bring prosperity to our people and nation in our time. Together, we will fulfill the destiny of Ghana, the destiny of freedom, justice and prosperity that the ancestors and founders of our nation defined for us”.
President Mahama’s Concession speech
Outgoing President John Dramani Mahama followed up his earlier phone congratulatory message with a concession speech.
“Every election is a hard-fought battle, and this one was no exception. For those of us who choose to be contenders and go into electoral contests, we go about it as a win-lose proposition.
“We believe that only one person can emerge as the winner. And while it is true that only one person can be elected President, in reality, and certainly in a democracy such as ours, every election is an opportunity for the people of this nation to express their will, to have their say in who will lead them in the shaping of Ghana’s future.
“In this way, each victory belongs to the people. And the true winner is always Ghana. It is precisely on account of my belief in Ghana and its future that notwithstanding the irregularities associated with this election, I have decided at this stage to congratulate the President-elect.
“With this understanding, I would like to assure the people of Ghana of my commitment to the sustenance of our country’s democracy and would work to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition to the incoming administration.
“I remain committed to the unity and stability of our great nation. I am profoundly grateful to the almighty God and the people of Ghana for the opportunity to serve in the high office of President.
“As President, I have done my bit and made a contribution to the political, social and economic development of our country. I would have cherished an opportunity to do even more, but I respect the will of the Ghanaian people”.
Ghana’s 2017 Economic Outlook/Fortunes
Worldwide financial and economic analysts and institutions have been forecasting fiscal consolidation of Ghana’s economy which should lead to moderate growth going forward in 2017.
They have been predicting that the current pains of stabilizing the economy will begin to yield fruits next year. According to them any of the two leading parties that wins tomorrow’s election will inherit a stable economy in 2017.
The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Economic Intelligence Unit, Standards and Poor, Moody’s, and Fitch have all predicted fiscal consolidation and major takeoff of the Ghanaian economy next year.
The EIU early this year predicted real GDP growth would be boosted to an average of seven per cent a year in 2017-2018 by new oil and gas production, before moderating to 5.6 per cent in 2019-2021 amid weaker global prospects.
It added that inflation would come down relatively in 2017-2018 amid generally tighter policy but higher global commodity prices and that after a slight election-related uptick in 2020; inflation would ease a little further in 2021 to an average of 8.7 per cent.
The cedi, it said, would become more stable in 2017-2018 as oil earnings grew and policy stability improved, before electoral uncertainty and weaker global conditions would cause renewed volatility in 2019-2020.
“The current account deficit will narrow in 2017-2018 in dollar terms as oil production increases but widen in 2019-2020 as a result of lower prices. A contraction is then forecast in 2021 as the local and global economy recovers,” it indicated.
The World Bank has also projected Ghana’s economy to experience moderate growth of 4.5 per cent for 2017-2018, based on improving investor sentiment, the launch of new oilfields and the easing of the electricity crisis.
“Several countries are expected to see moderate growth. Among frontier markets, growth is expected to edge up in Ghana, driven by improving investor sentiment, the launch of new oilfields and the easing of the electricity crisis,” acting Chief Economist of the World Bank Africa, Ms.Punam Chuhan-Pole stated in a recent report.
The IMF holds a similar view about the prospects of the Ghana’s economy. Early this year, Moody’s revised the outlook on Ghana’s Long Term Bond Ratings from Negative to Stable. The agency also affirmed its B3 rating for Ghana.
Moody’s cited significant fiscal deficit reduction and success in implementing structural reforms over the past year as well as reduced government liquidity risk on the external side following the issuance of the US$750m Eurobond, the proceeds of which are earmarked for debt repayments as some of the key drivers for the stabilization of the rating.
Other reasons cited for the revision were improved balance of payments dynamics, including improved FDI inflows and continued development of oil and gas resources.
Ghana is also rated by Standards & Poor, and Fitch Ratings at B-/ Stable Outlook and B/ Negative Outlook, respectively.
Even though some leading political pundits and social commentators in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, treat the numerous campaign promises made to the electorates, by the incoming Nana Addo-led NPP administration with much pessimism, the President-elect appears confident and assures that he would be able to deliver.
Others are also quizzing that since he gave the outgoing administration including that of the late Professor Mills such a fierce opposition that gave them countless sleepless nights, should he also expect same in return or expect a soft stance from the NDC now to go into opposition so that he would have the needed peace of mind to govern.
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