Ghana 'at brink of deadly political violence' as it heads to the polls

(File : AP)
(File : AP)

Accra – A West African think tank, the Open Society Initiative has expressed concern over Ghana's elections on Wednesday, saying that the country faces deadly political violence if there is no clear winner. 

In an interview with News24, the think tank's political governance programme manager Mathias Hounkpe said that Ghana was at the brink of facing a deadly political violence, as both the front running political parties had militia groups, and had not signed a peace accord ahead of the vote. 

"Some of the political players have not yet signed the peace agreement.  This has heightened fears of political violence as both major political parties have militia groups. However, we are hopefully that there would not be any major political violence as they are some very influential players who would be able to avert any political violence.

Hounkpe said that some of the country's institutions were strong enough to avoid any catastrophic political violence over the presidential election results. 

He also expressed faith in regional and continental organisations. 


"The African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been working together to exert pressure on all the political players, so we can only hope that there won't be any violence.

"There is also the country' powerful peace council which is mainly established to resolve any conflict, but we can never be 100% sure," said Hounkpe. 

According to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the west African country has held six multiparty elections since 1992.

In both 2000 and 2008, the incumbent president and ruling party accepted their electoral defeat and peacefully ceded power to the opposition.

The country ranks high on cross-national indices measuring the rule of law, media freedom, and other indicators of democratic consolidation.

After decades of political turmoil and military rule, a contentious but relatively stable party system has taken root, with two roughly equally matched parties facing off in highly competitive elections.

Both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) compete for votes beyond their ethno-regional strongholds.  

However, the lead-up to the 2016 elections has been fraught with tensions.

'Ghananias are more aware'

Public discontent with the economic mismanagement of the NDC government led by President John Dramani Mahama is running high, exacerbated by recurring power shortages and several high-level corruption scandals.

Seven out of 10 Ghanaians believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Hounkpe said that president Mahama’s party was at the risk of losing political power after it faced a number of scandals.

He said that the NDC was set to suffer at the polls as most Ghanaians were more politically aware than their other west African counterparts.

"Ghanaians are more aware than most other west Africans. This means that President Mahama's party would likely pay a huge price at the polls. His government has been faced with a declining economy over the past year, which has resulted in many challenges for Ghanaians," said Hounkpe.

He claimed that Mahama's government was also tainted by corruption.

"The Mahama led government has seen some major problems over the past couple of years. It was hit by unfavourable economic climate. It was also hit by a major corruption scandal that involved the judiciary. And it was also hit by the rapid electrical outages which would have deep impact on his chances of retaining the presidency, " said Hounkpe. 

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