Ghana: President Mahama’s 2012 Victory ConfirmedBy: Kristen M. Foster - August 31, 2013
“I’d always known that I was legitimately elected, and I knew that eventually justice will be served,” newly confirmed President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama said in a Friday interview. On Thursday, the Ghanaian Supreme Court upheld Mahama’s victory from elections in 2012. Mahama declared the ruling and preceding debate a democratic test that Ghana passed. “The people of Ghana… They’ve sent a message to the world that this country is stable politically and has matured in its democracy…”
Mahama’s opponent Nana Akufo-Addo, captured 47.7% of the votes in the elections held last December; Mahama gained 50.7%. Akufo-Addo called Mahama on Thursday to congratulate the victor. The court proceedings were broadcast live on radio and TV, and while tense at times, the court verdict was received peacefully in the country, mirroring the original elections.
Mahama was inaugurated in January of this year but originally took office after President John Atta Mills died of throat cancer in July 2012. He hosts an “Ask Mahama” Facebook page and website in addition to an active Twitter account, which featured philosophic musings last December 31st in the face of election uncertainty.
Ghana has been the recipient of overflow from fighting in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire. A 2010 election crisis in the regularly turbulent nation resulted in the flight of refugees and officials loyal to now-ousted Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo. Several former Gbagbo supporters have been arrested in Ghana in 2013. One later extradited at the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was Charles Ble Goude, a former leader of a militant youth movement that favored Gbagbo.
Ghanaian courts on Friday however rejected the request from Côte d’Ivoire to extradite a key Gbagbo ally, Justin Kone Katinan. Judges declared Katinan to have refugee status and determined the Ivoirian request to be politically motivated. Katinan continues to declare Gbagbo, who was arrested in April 2011 and sent to the ICC, the legitimate president. Katinan is accused of robbing banks in the elections’ aftermath. He argues the banks were legitimately opened by Gbagbo to pay civil servants. It was a French order that closed the banks. The French, supporting Gbagbo’s opponent Alassane Ouattara, sent troops to join UN forces that toppled Gbagbo’s regime.
Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power and subsequent removal after November 2010 elections sparked a violent conflict, resulting in the death of around 3,000 people. Some have accused Mahama’s political party of being affiliated with Gbagbo’s but Mahama has responded with a promise to cease any chaos driven by Ivory Coast turmoil.
Ghanaian exports include gold, cocoa and oil as of 2010. This new oil revenue has expanded the economy but poor government management caused mass deficits. Mahama vowed to recover the economy. Over the course of the last few years, Africa has experienced a mass inflow of Chinese citizens looking to make grand profits off the struggling continent’s natural resources. Ghana is no exception, and last June security forces were sent to arrest Chinese gold miners who had illegally staked out claims in collaboration with Ghanaian citizens. Mahama assures that relations with China, an important trading partner, have not been damaged: “my Chinese counterparts… understand the problems that illegal gold mining is causing for Ghana.”[Images via CIA World Factbook and Twitter.]