Ghana’s can­di­dates make fi­nal push be­fore elec­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

With just 48 hours left be­fore vot­ers in Ghana head to the polls, pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Nana Akufo-Addo said the coun­try’s democ­racy was in a “crit­i­cal space”. Aku­foAddo ac­cused the rul­ing party of fo­ment­ing vi­o­lence as po­lice turn a blind eye, casting doubt on the coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion as bea­con of democ­racy in Africa. “We’re cer­tainly in a very crit­i­cal space,” Akufo-Addo told re­porters at his house in Ghana’s cap­i­tal Ac­cra af­ter a rally. “It’s im­por­tant that these acts of vi­o­lence be­ing per­pe­trated by op­er­a­tives of the rul­ing party are dealt with ac­cord­ing to the rule of law,” Akufo-Addo said. “We have def­i­nite reser­va­tions about the neu­tral­ity of the po­lice.” Fears about the ero­sion of Ghana’s democ­racy have dom­i­nated the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, with claims of voter in­tim­i­da­tion and questions over in­de­pen­dence of the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion.

An ex­porter of gold, co­coa and oil, the West African coun­try was once hailed as a re­gional growth model but has lost its lus­tre af­ter tak­ing on too much debt. Dur­ing the bit­ter pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, New Pa­tri­otic Party (NPP) can­di­date Akufo-Addo crit­i­cized in­cum­bent John Ma­hama for mis­man­ag­ing the econ­omy and al­low­ing cor­rup­tion to flour­ish. Na­tional Demo­cratic Con­gress (NDC) leader Ma­hama has painted a rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent pic­ture of Ghana, tout­ing his govern­ment as an ex­am­ple of fis­cal dis­ci­pline and promis­ing that tack­ling cor­rup­tion will be one of his pri­or­i­ties if re­elected.

‘Winds of change’

If nei­ther the NDC or NPP win more than 50 per­cent of votes, a pres­i­den­tial run-off will take place later in De­cem­ber. Elec­tions in Ghana are of­ten down to the wire-Aku­foAddo has lost nar­rowly twice be­fore-but the eco­nomic cri­sis may swing vot­ers his way. At a fi­nal NPP rally in Ac­cra, there were echoes of Barack Obama’s sem­i­nal 2008 cam­paign, with ju­bi­lant sup­port­ers wav­ing huge blue “hope” flags and blow­ing plas­tic horns. Many in the crowd said they were “suf­fer­ing” with­out jobs, de­scrib­ing Akufo-Addo as an “in­cor­rupt­ible” leader who could re­store the econ­omy and help Ghana com­pete with re­gional star Ivory Coast.

“The winds of change are blow­ing the whole of Africa, all the cor­rupt lead­ers are be­ing taken away,” said 40-year-old Bernard Owusu.”It hap­pened in Gam­bia, it hap­pened in Nige­ria, and other parts of Africa, and it’s time for Ghana.” When Akufo-Addo took the stage, the crowd un­leashed an ear­split­ting roar as fire­works popped over­heard. “NDC is cor­rupt,” said Mar­garet Dark­wah, a 55-year-old decked out headto-toe in NPP para­pher­na­lia. “So we are throw­ing them out.” Ma­hama has worked to take the high road in the cam­paign, play­ing the part of states­man. “Let’s con­tinue to ig­nore all forms of provo­ca­tion,” Ma­hama said in a state­ment on Twit­ter over the week­end, urg­ing Ghana to vote and peace­fully “wait for the re­sults.” — AFP

AC­CRA: A sup­porter rides a bi­cy­cle wear­ing out­fit de­signed with colors of the op­po­si­tion New Pa­tri­otic Party dur­ing the grand cam­paign rally of the party in Ac­cra. — AFP

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