Monday, December 8, 2008

Good news for democracy in Africa, thanks to Ghana

Since it feels like I’m always writing about the shortcomings of democracy in Africa (see the many posts on Zimbabwe for starters), I wanted to make sure to do a post about this weekend’s elections in Ghana.

They are remarkable for being entirely unremarkable – no riots, no threats of intimidation, no lost ballot boxes, just a well-conducted multi-party election. In fact one election observer from Nigeria remarked: “"it's really been excellent, peaceful. You cannot try to compare these elections to any other on the continent except with South Africa, that's the only country considered democratic.”

For much of its independence, Ghana was the all-too-typical story in Africa, a country stumbling from one coup to the next. But since 1992, the country has had now five peaceful elections. Even this year with pressures that historically could lead to problems – a leader stepping down, and newly-discovered oil fields about to come into production – things have gone well, with seven parties vying for power.

The results will not be official for a few days since two parties, the ruling New Patriotic Party and the main opposition group National Democratic Congress, are locked in a close race. But no problems are expected as the votes are tallied, one report said things were going “smooth as silk”.

Hopefully it’s a story that will become common in other countries across Africa.
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