Ghanaians have long had a sense of their own crucial role in the history of post-colonial Africa. From the days when Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana to be the first sub-Saharan African nation to gain independence from its colonial master up to the transition to democracy in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Ghana has been at the epicenter of the modern political experience in Africa.
This week’s presidential run-off in Ghana was another notable chapter in that proud legacy. After 2 rounds of voting that both domestic and international observers declared free and fair, the Ghanaian electorate chose John Atta-Mills to be its next president in a close, but clear, vote.
Despite tensions running high because of the high stakes involved, Ghanaians of all views and political stripes, including the local media, took personal responsibility to conduct an election that was both competitive and peaceful.
A seriously flawed election in Nigeria, post-election violence in Kenya and government intimidation of opposition voters in Zimbabwe cast a pall on the electoral process as practiced in some African nations and raised questions in some quarters of the suitability of the democratic model for Africa. By contrast, Ghana’s run-off election, conducted on both December 28 and January 2 following a peaceful preliminary vote in which neither Mr. Mills nor Nana Akufo-Addo scored the necessary majority, should eliminate those doubts.
The United States congratulates the Electoral Commission of Ghana and the Ghanaian people for their efforts and accomplishments. “The U.S. considers Ghana a model of democracy,” said Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer. With this round of elections, Ghana once again took front and center on the world political stage and, living up to its reputation as a leader in sub-Sahara Africa, delivered a true democratic tour d'force.