The government of Ghana and opposition parties declared Monday of a “Day of Thanksgiving” for the unity of the West African country. It comes one week after Ghana marked its 54th anniversary of independence from Britain.
There were several hours of national prayer to thank God for keeping Ghana stable, reports Peter Clottey from the capital, Accra.
Ghana Highlights Unity During 'Day of Thanksgiving' President John Atta Mills said God is the president of this country, and he will continue to ask God to direct him to have the wisdom and knowledge to rule the country.
Clottey says it was also a day for political rivals to meet and converse in a civil manner, a change from what critics say has been an atmosphere of divisive political rhetoric.
For the first time, President Mills of the ruling National Democratic Congress party and former President John Agyekum Kuofor of the New Patriotic Party met to calm down tensions, to talk to one another about how best to move the country forward.
For the first time, you saw the main opposition leader of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, shaking hands and chatting heartily and embracing President Mills. Both of their wives and others were also conversing.
This was flashed all over newspapers and television stations and was the topic of political discussions on the radio about how well they projected unity and to show Ghana is peaceful, stable despite the challenges in some of these neighboring countries.
Ghana stands in contrast to neighboring Ivory Coast, which has been brought to a standstill by last November’s disputed presidential election.
Civil leaders fear overheated rhetoric between the government and opposition could endanger next year's elections. Many Ghanaians are worried that divisive political rhetoric could scare investors or lead to violence during its own polls scheduled for next year.
Ivory Coast is in crisis, and people are worried that, with some of these statements, it could raise tensions so high that when elections are arranged for next year, things could get out of hand.
The government has denied opposition claims that it has failed to deliver on its campaign promise of a “better Ghana.” Critics charge the national census and district elections were poorly run, a situation the government blames on what the government says are two independent agencies – the electoral commission and the Ghana Statistical Service.
On the other hand, the government cites its progress in improving the economy, including a report by the Corruption Perception Index indicating improvements in fighting corruption. The index is published by the Ghanaian branch of the group Transparency International.