Friday, December 10, 2004

Kufour wins Ghana elections; Rawlings distraught

Ghana's president John Kufour was re-elected to a second term, winning a majority 52.75% in the first round of Tuesday's general election. His main rival, Prof. John Atta Mills, trailed behind by eight points. The election was widely regarded as free and fair by observers and turnout was extremely high, over 83%.

Though, Mills' National Democratic Congress party may demand a recount. Kufour's campaign manager wondered why Mills did not want to concede defeat when it was clear that [Kufour] was winning and said Prof. Atta Mills won the respect of all Ghanaians when he conceded defeat four years ago, according to The Accra Daily Mail.

[Update: Mills apparently conceded defeat earlier today]

Possibly the most Orwellian incident from the election campaign came, not surprisingly, from the country's former leader. Jerry John Rawlings, who's never far from the cameras and microphones. He accused Nigerian president Olesegun Obasanjo of interfering in Ghana's electoral process. Specifically, he alleged that the Nigerian government brought in soldiers to help get the incumbent President John Agyekum Kufuor re-elected through manipulation, according to Nigerian paper This Day (via Atta Mills was Rawlings' vice president and was strongly backed by Rawlings in both the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Here's the kicker, Rawlings said, "For the first time in the history of this country, a very corrupt, dictatorial, brutal and primitive government is going to be removed, not by a coup d'etat, but by the electoral box."

Anyone familiar with the legacy of his 20 years in power, especially the savage early years, wishes that Rawlings would've allowed a very corrupt, dictatorial, brutal and primitive government be removed by the electoral box in the early 80s.

An interesting tidbit from the results was noted innoucously by the BBC World Service's Focus on Africa. One of the Focus reporters mentioned that despite Kufour's big win, a few of his ministers went down to defeat in parliamentary elections, including Education Minister Elizabeth Ohene. The reporter didn't mention that Ohene was the long time editor on the very same Focus on Africa show, as well as a regular on other BBC Africa programs.


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