Ghana’s President Focuses On December Elections

Posted August 14th, 2012 at 4:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Ghana's new president says his immediate challenge is to get the government to continue working smoothly as rival political parties prepare for December elections.

John Dramani Mahama, Ghana's former vice president, took power last month after the unexpected death of his predecessor John Atta Mills.

Mr. Mahama told VOA in an interview that the transfer of power was smooth thanks to Ghana's solid constitution and mature democracy. He said after a long period of instability and coup d'états, the 1992 constitution enabled five successful elections in his country and made it impossible to roll back democracy.

“Our 1992 constitution was written in a very consensual way by people from all walks of life in our country and they must have anticipated a lot of things. And so it's a very good constitution, very well written. It is clear and where we have uncertainties about parts of it, the supreme court determines and we all abide by it. But I think it's Ghana's collective experience along its historical road for the last fifty four years that has brought us to this point where we have such a stable democratic process.”

Mr. Mahama said that in Ghana today, and in much of Africa, there are strong civil society organizations, religious and traditional groups and leaders, as well as pressure groups, that all have a vision of how they want to live.

In his words, the age of the “dinosaur” single-vision head of state on the continent is past, noting that 24 African nations held elections in the past year and a half. This was not the case in the 1970s, he said, when there were no elections because most African states were military dictatorships.

Mr. Mahama will run for president in the December elections. He says the competition will be strong not because Ghanaians have different visions for their future, but because they have different propositions on how to achieve the same goal.

“I think it's a shared vision because Ghanaians want a stable democratic country, constitutionally governed under the rule of law. But at the same time, we want to create a country where our people can live in decency and dignity, a country where our mothers are not dying in the process of giving birth, a country where our children are not dying prematurely from malaria, a country where young people can grow up in a moral environment and be proud that they are Ghanaian.”

In a message to other African nations, President Mahama said elections are important even if they are not perfect because they get better with time. He warned that after a longtime dictatorship, things get worse before they get better. But ultimately, he said, nations can only achieve stability through elections that reflect views of their people.