Akufo wins Ghana’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

AC­CRA: Challenger Nana Akufo-Addo won Ghana’s na­tional elec­tion on Fri­day, tap­ping into an elec­torate fed up with a sput­ter­ing econ­omy and ready for change. The eru­dite 72-year-old hu­man rights lawyer cruised to vic­tory win­ning 53.8 per­cent of the votes, ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s elec­tion agency.

“I will not let you down. I will do all in my power to live up to your hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions,” Akufo-Addo said to an ec­static crowd at his house in the coun­try’s cap­i­tal of Ac­cra. “I will do my best to serve your in­ter­ests and put our coun­try back on the path of progress and pros­per­ity. ”In­cum­bent John Ma­hama con­ceded de­feat in the even­ing two days af­ter a hotly con­tested race that was seen as a test of the coun­try’s democ­racy in a re­gion plagued by dic­ta­tors and coups.

Ma­hama called to con­grat­u­late op­po­si­tion leader Akufo-Addo, whose New Pa­tri­otic Party (NPP) sup­port­ers had been gath­er­ing for hours out­side his house af­ter lo­cal me­dia gave him a clear lead fol­low­ing the Wed­nes­day vote. “Yes he has con­ceded de­feat,” Ge­orge Law­son of Ma­hama’s New Demo­cratic Congress (NDC) party told AFP.

Akufo-Addo had cam­paigned on a plat­form promis­ing to boost growth and de­liver jobs. “The pres­i­dent of Ghana is pres­i­dent for ev­ery sin­gle Ghana­ian,” Akufo-Addo said, as fire­works popped over­head and thou­sands of peo­ple cheered in the streets out­side his house.

‘Gold stan­dard’

Akufo-Addo’s sup­port­ers - al­most all in head-to-toe white, a sym­bol of vic­tory had been danc­ing on his lawn for hours in an­tic­i­pa­tion of his vic­tory speech. At one point, they broke out in an en­thu­si­as­tic a cap­pella ren­di­tion of Ghana’s na­tional an­them. “We have won,” said Ha­jia Mustafa, a 44-year-old trader, flash­ing a wide smile, “I have my pres­i­dent, I have my choice.” The high-stakes race be­tween Akufo-Addo and Ma­hama has been seen as a lit­mus test of the sta­bil­ity for one of Africa’s most se­cure democ­ra­cies. But fears of wide­spread vi­o­lence erupt­ing dur­ing the elec­tion never ma­te­ri­al­ized, with a gen­er­ally peace­ful vot­ing day fol­lowed by calm as the of­fi­cial re­sults trick­led in. “I think Ghana­ians should be ex­traor­di­nar­ily proud of them­selves,” said Am­bas­sador John­nie Car­son of the Na­tional Demo­cratic In­sti­tute, an elec­tion ob­server. “Ghana has dis­tin­guished it­self in the last two and a half decades with in­tegrity and trans­parency,” Car­son said. “It is a gold stan­dard for democ­racy in Africa.”

‘Es­caped vi­o­lence’

Yet while the Euro­pean Union Elec­tion Ob­ser­va­tion Mis­sion said that Ghana “largely es­caped the vi­o­lence many had feared” it pointed to other ar­eas of con­cern. “The mis­use of in­cum­bency, in­clud­ing un­equal ac­cess to state me­dia, and un­ac­count­able cam­paign fi­nanc­ing were ar­eas Ghana could ad­dress in the fu­ture,” said the mis­sion in a state­ment.

Akufo-Addo will serve a four-year term in the for­mer Bri­tish colony, a once boom­ing coun­try that has seen its econ­omy slow, cur­rency de­te­ri­o­rate and in­fla­tion soar. Ma­hama, who came to power in 2012 af­ter beat­ing Akufo-Addo, had urged vot­ers to “stay the course”, promis­ing to de­liver more in­fra­struc­ture projects. In his third bid for the top job, Akufo-Addo blasted Ghana’s poor eco­nomic growth rate-es­ti­mated at 3.3 per­cent in 2016, the low­est rate for two decades-and laid out a rad­i­cal vi­sion to trans­form the coun­try’s econ­omy.

Akufo-Addo had also warned his sup­port­ers that “vig­i­lance is key” at the polls in an at­tempt to avoid a re­peat of the 2012 vote-nar­rowly won by Ma­hama with 50.7 per­cent-that he con­tested un­suc­cess­fully in the coun­try’s Supreme Court. Ghana is the world’s sec­ond big­gest pro­ducer of co­coa af­ter Ivory Coast and Africa’s sec­ond big­gest gold pro­ducer af­ter South Africa. But it was forced to turn to the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF) in 2015 for a bailout as global com­mod­ity prices tanked.

— AP

AC­CRA: Sup­port­ers of Ghana’s Pres­i­dent elect Nana Akufo-Addo, of the New Pa­tri­otic Party, cel­e­brates pres­i­den­tial elec­tion vic­tory.

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