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Ghana Political Parties Vie for Power in December Polls

  • Joana Mantey

As voters in Ghana prepare to elect a president and parliament in December, the rival political parties are busy canvassing for votes.

Most feel political tension is not especially high.

George Lawson, the deputy general secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress, or NDC party.

“If you would recall, in 2008 by now the atmosphere was really tense," he said. "[Now] people are going about their duties normally”.

However, things do not seem normal within Lawson’s party, where there is deep internal wrangling.

The NDC party has been involved in internal bickering over various issues. Now a breakaway faction has formed a new party headed by Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the wife of NDC founder and former President Jerry Rawlings.

The Electoral Commission has disqualified the breakaway National Democratic Party, NDP, from the presidential election. But it is seeking parliamentary seats and the former first lady is calling for the ruling NDC government to be voted out of power.

Still the NDC’s secretary in Ghana’s Ashanti region, Amin Joseph, claims the ruling party is focused on winning. He accused the rival New Patriotic Party, or NPP, of being hostile.

“Abusive language is in our politicking," he said, "but the NPP seems to be dominating the survey that was conducted into abusive language. At least people are realizing that the NDC is more decent than the NPP”.

Ghana is seen as a model for democracy in Africa.

It has held five democratic elections since 1992, when it passed a new constitution.
However, some, like NPP communication team member and lawyer Mike Ocquaye, said December’s election could trigger changes to the electoral process.

“We have instances," he said, "where there are attempts to bring proxy voting without reference to verification and that there will be a special list. We have situations of people saying transfer and we will not be using verification and coming up with a special list [under] which people may accuse and counter accuse. These are very dangerous for an election and therefore purification of the system [is needed] to be able to conduct elections.”

Some parties are also accusing rivals of supporting drug-related activities. But Ocquaye says the tagging of political parties as having links to drugs trade needs to be discouraged.

“Anybody who tries to make drugs political," he said, "is very naïve because we all know that, even recently, the biggest haul of cocaine [which arrived from Ghana] has been seized in Britain. Am I to say therefore that [President] John Mahama aided it? No, anybody who does that would be very naïve”.

Despite some infighting and tension between political parties, they have all agreed to adopt a code of ethics as guide to this year’s elections. They have promised to minimize the use of inflammatory language and to publicly denounce political violence should it occur.

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