On Jan. 7, opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo took office as the president of Ghana, a month after defeating incumbent President John Mahama in a smooth presidential election that again boosted Ghana’s democratic reputation. December’s vote represented an exception at a time of electoral and political turmoil in other parts of Africa, most recently in nearby Gambia, Georgetown University’s Alex Thurston writes for World Politics Review:
Despite Ghana’s economic uncertainty, the December election won international acclaim, contrasting sharply with other electoral outcomes in Africa in 2016. As Vera Songwe points out, Ghana was not alone among African countries in holding successful elections last year, but its process went significantly more smoothly than those in other high-profile contests. Ghana also has a tradition of democratic success to cherish: As an old adage runs, one can judge the success of a democracy by how many living ex-presidents a country has.
Ghanaians demonstrated leadership in the way and manner they participated and managed the elections at a time it was predicted that the elections would be marred by violence, notes Samson Itodo, who works with the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) in Nigeria:
A survey on The Impact of Elections: Voting, Political Behavior and Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa revealed that that public attitudes in Ghana are similar to those in countries where elections have been much more challenging or violent. However, the voters in Ghana kept peace and did not allow their country slide into chaos and instability irrespective of the outcome. The maturity displayed by Ghanaians is worthy of emulation by other countries.
Itodo was part of a Ghana elections study mission by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). He tweets @DSamsonItodo.