Ghana, Africa’s most stable democracy, today inaugurated John Mahama as its new president amid a spirit of hope in the West African nation, which recently began producing crude oil offshore.
Though Mahama won election over New Patriotic Party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo by a solid margin of 3 percent, 50.7 percent to 47.7 percent, the New Patriotic Party is contesting the results, claiming irregularities at the polls. The nation went ahead with the inauguration, although the Supreme Court will be ruling on the election dispute in a few weeks.
Based on published reports, many Ghanaians seemed annoyed by the opposition party’s attempt to challenge the results — particularly since the results were verified and signed off on by opposition party officials at every polling place.
“A tremendous amount of work has been done. Nevertheless, there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done,” Mahama said in his inaugural speech in Accra’s Independence Square, reading from a tablet computer. “Change does not happen overnight. It will appear darkest before the dawn of a new day makes that progress visible.”
With its population of 25 million, Ghana has held six peaceful multiparty elections in a row. The country is one of the largest cocoa producers in the world, but is eager to move into the lucrative oil market.
Mahama, the former vice president, took over the nation in July following the unexpected death of President John Atta Mills. Before becoming vice president in 2009, the 54-year-old Mahama served as a government minister and a member of parliament.
The death of Mills, 68, was called “sudden and untimely” last July in the statement signed by the presidential chief of staff, John Henry Martey Newman. The president died of acute cardiac arrest, hours after parliament was informed that he was leaving on a official trip to Nigeria. Mills had returned from the United States after undergoing medical treatment in New York. He was reported to be suffering from throat cancer, but his illness was never officially confirmed. He was the first Ghanaian president to die while in office.
The losing candidate, Akufo-Addo, 68, is the son of the former president and Chief Justice Edward Akufo-Addo, who died in 1979. In addition to losing in 2012, Akufo-Addo lost the 2008 election by less than 1 percent, which surely is adding to his bitterness over these results.