Ghanaians are proud of their country’s reputation throughout Africa as a pillar of stability.
Late in the fall of 2020, they celebrated and reinforced it.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings, a mammoth figure in Ghana and a symbol of the country’s democracy, died at age 73 in the midst of a contentious presidential election.
Rawlings led Ghana for 20 years, first as the engineer of two coup d’etats, then as a two-term president who completed the fledgling nation’s transition from corruption and authoritarianism to stable democracy.
Luis Franceschi, leader of the Commonwealth of Nations’ team of election observers, called Rawlings a statesman for all of Africa and looked to election day with hope.
“The legacy of that peaceful voting day is the legacy of a man who had the courage to guide the country to this democratic path, which shines not only in Africa but across the Commonwealth,” he said in a public tribute.
On December 7, 2020, the people voted in the country’s eighth election since it first established a multiparty democracy in 1992. In that time, Ghana has forged a strong record of smooth transitions of power.
Nearly 68,000 military and paramilitary forces were deployed around the country to maintain peace on election day. Fears of violence were not realized.
It was a close contest, as it typically is in Ghana, with incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo winning with 51.59% of the vote over his predecessor, John Mahama. Turnout was 79% among the 17 million registered voters.
Addressing the people at his swearing-in ceremony, Akufo-Addo appealed for unity.
“The Ghanaian people have manifested, time and again, their determination to build a free, democratic, peaceful nation, which is respectful of individual liberties and human rights, the rule of law, and the principles of democratic accountability,” he said. “The unity and stability of our country are the welcome outcomes of such a development.”
Ambassador J. Peter Pham, U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahel Region, led a delegation at Akufo-Addo’s inauguration in the capital, Accra, on January 7, reaffirming the country’s partnership with Ghana.
“The United States values Ghana’s democratic, security and economic leadership in the region and throughout Africa,” Pham said in a statement before meeting with Lt. Gen. Obed Akwa, chief of Defense Staff, to discuss Ghana’s peacekeeping role in the region.
With nearly 3,000 Soldiers deployed across a dozen United Nations missions, security is another source of pride for the people.
“Ghana’s participation has been very tremendous so far as global peace is concerned,” Emmanuel Wekem Kotia, commander of the Western Sector in the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said on the organization’s website. “Our country has served as a mentor to other countries in this field.
“We have gone on to establish the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, which serves as a global training center for various aspects of peacekeeping. Ghana is considered as a mentoring country.”