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Ghana 2016

Over the last two decades, Ghana has been recognized on the continent and throughout the world as the beacon of democracy in the Sub Saharan region. The country has successfully conducted six (6) consecutive elections from 1992 – 2012. The relatively peaceful transfer of power between the two main political parties; the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2000 and 2008 has also been applauded globally. While these peaceful transfers of power have been eventful, the process has recorded its own incidences of both intra- and inter-party electoral violence since the commencement of it Fourth Republic in 1992.

In the December 2016 elections, which also happened to be the seventh consecutive elections in Ghana, it was anticipated that violence would be a major component considering the stakes at hand. The in-country political analysis and reports that emanated from print, broadcast and social media all pointed to a serious potential of increased violence during the forthcoming elections, with possible threats to the peaceful democratic transitions and stability with which the country has prided itself for decades.

The constitution of Ghana allows a person to run for the high office of the president for a maximum of two terms. Each term spans a period of four years. In the past, this constitutional mandate has been bolstered by the coincidence that the two major parties have alternated power after their leaders had served two terms each. Similarly, the pattern showed that presidential candidates of the main opposition party have won elections on the third time after two unsuccessful runs.

However, this election had a complicated twist to this pattern. Although the NDC had enjoyed 2 terms in office, its presidential candidate and incumbent president had only served one term following the death of former President John Evans Atta Mills, and was seeking re-election. The opposition NPP’s flagbearer who ran unsuccessfully in the last two elections was running for his third and possibly final term. The change in the dynamic pattern of the electoral history raised the stakes for the elections. Ghana’s winner-takes-all syndrome further upped the political ante for either party to do everything in their power to make sure they win.

Intra-party politics also complicated the political landscape and intensified the tension around the elections. The increase in vigilante youth groups allegedly belonging to political parties such as the ‘Bolgatanga Bull Dogs’, the ‘Azorka’ Boys, the ‘Macho Men’ and the ‘Invincible Forces’ all posed serious threats to a peaceful electoral process. In addition, a decline of public confidence in the ability of the electoral commission to conduct a free and fair elections further complicated the political landscape and intensified the tensions around the elections.

All of these pressing issues raised concerns. Members of both the domestic and international community feared that if the elections were not executed properly, Ghana’s electoral institutions and practices could be undermined, and other countries undergoing democratic transitions could backslide. This prompted the media, political parties, security agencies, civil society organisations and religious groups alike to replicate the Women’s Situation Room (WSR) as an early warning mechanism and response to prevent the potential for violence. The Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) was invited to provide technical support during the replication of the WSR to ensure women and youth in Ghana successfully minimise violence before, during and after the 2016 elections.

Ghana 2016 News

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