Professor John Evans Atta-Mills
officially will be sworn in today as Ghana's next president, taking over from
outgoing President John Kufuor. Chief Justice Georgina
Wood will deliver the oath of office to President-Elect Atta-Mills this
afternoon in the capital, Accra after a new speaker of parliament and other
parliamentarians have been sworn in. Today's ceremony is the second time in
Ghana's 52-year political history that an elected leader will be handing over
power to another elected leader.
Atta-Mills was declared winner of Ghana's
December 28 runoff election with more than 50 percent of the votes. The runoff
was necessitated after candidates of the ruling party and the main opposition
failed to garner the minimum requirement to win the December 7 first round of
the general election. Ali Mazrui is a professor of political science and African studies at State university of
New York Binghamton. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Ghana's democratic
experience should serve as a shining example to all of Africa.
permitting the process of election to go on without excessive interruptions and
violence, so while not everything went perfectly in Ghana, it was far, far
better than we experienced in my own country in Kenya in December-January of
last year, and far better than Zimbabwe had undergone. So this is a good
example, and we hope it is a sort of example that would be repeated elsewhere
on our continent," Professor Mazrui pointed out.
said Ghana seems to be on the highway of showing how democracy can be
entrenched to make subversion of the constitution a thing of the past.
has given us an example as a country which used to be coup prone. Africa has
had coup prone countries liable to periodic military interventions and
relatively coup proof countries, some of whom have never had a military coup
since independence almost 50 years ago. So Ghana started off since 1966 to demonstrate
a proneness to military intervention. And since then it has moved gradually,
but decisively towards qualifying for relative coup proof-ness, and it is
something worth studying for the rest of the continent," he said.
Mazrui said there is need for Africa's regional bodies to be decisive on
instituting democracy on the continent.
organizations should be alert on these issues and should take positions about
democratic performance. The so-called peer review and use of the Ghanaian
example is one type of module to examine for lessons," Professor Mazrui noted.
said the Ghanaian democratic process could make other countries hopeful and
could trigger a paradigm shift towards embracing the tenets of democracy.
Ghanaian example has been repeated more than once with a change of regime, and
that becomes extra reassuring. If it only happens once, you are not sure
whether you have arrived yet. If it happens twice, you are on your way towards
stabilizing peaceful changes of government through the electoral process. And
the sort of thing should become a major priority in the agenda of the African
Union and in the agenda of the sub-regional organizations like ECOWAS (Economic
Community of West African States) or the East African Community so that we keep
a constant state of alertness about how to improve our own performance in the
democratic process," he said.
Mazrui hailed the outgoing party's peaceful transition from a ruling government
to an opposition government.
transition of the ruling party being defeated and then another one taking over,
this is a particularly crucial type of transition. And secondly, if I
understand what has happened in the Ghanaian election this time, it is also a
transition in relations to changing of regimes on the basis of ethnicity. It's
very important that different ethnic group gets a sense of access to ultimate
power," Professor Mazrui pointed out.
compared Ghana's democratic process to that of the United States, which elected
Barak Obama as the first African-American president to take over from outgoing
President George Bush.
in America, we are celebrating Obama's achievement as an unprecedented and
precedented assumption of the presidency by an African American. And I believe
Ghana is showing similar tendencies towards opening the gates to ultimate power
to other ethnic groups. So it is not just rotation of political parties. There
should also be rotation of ethnic incumbency and Ghanaians are getting better
and better at that sort of thing," he said.
is considered by many Ghanaians as making personal history after being the
first sitting former vice president to
lose power, stay in the opposition for eight consecutive years under another
party's rule, and then win power back from an incumbent. The election was
described by both international and local observers as meeting international
standards by being transparent, free and fair.