Tomorrow is going to be a very interesting day for Ghana. Over the past two months the Supreme Court has been busy sorting through allegations of corruption during the 2012 election that could see the current NDC government overturned. The official opposition, the NPP, have challenged the election results claiming that voting and governance irregularities in key districts have significantly impacted the final results, ultimately leading to their defeat. An election scandal this large in Ghana is unprecedented, and any ruling could have noticeable impacts on Ghanaian society, significantly altering the political and economic foundations underlying the country's development.
"Adjudication by the Supreme Court is a part of our democratic governance, and whatever verdict the court comes out with, we should be prepared as a nation to accept. We should all remind each other that this country is bigger than all of us,"
--President Mahama, NDC
What makes this case interesting is that Ghana has a reputation both nationally and internationally as a shining example of democracy in West Africa. A history of free and transparent elections is a cause of pride among Ghanaians, and the ideal of justice holds great importance within the Ghanaian culture. From what I've heard this challenge has significant evidence supporting its legitimacy, leading many people I've talked to to speculate that the results could equally favour either side. This has been fuelling fears across the country that civil unrest could result after the courts ruling, as supporters from both sides feel that justice will rule in their favour. This has lead many media commentators, political groups and influential leaders to come out in support of a unified Ghana, regardless of the court's final ruling.
I personally believe that these appeals to peace and unity will prove effective. Ghanaians have many traits that complement this message of peace that is being communicated across the media. Open dialogue and freedom of thought over free media allows people to remain educated on this case and decide for themselves which position to support. A heightened spirituality also allows for unity, as Christians and Muslims live peacefully alongside one another with the belief in "One God", considering each other as one people. Over the past week I've seen a "Prayerthon" advertised relentlessly on tv; a religious program focused on prayer for peace and unity that will run for 12 straight hours in wake of the court's ruling. The Political Peace Football Gala was also held yesterday at the Accra Sport Stadium , an event which saw influential persons and groups come together in a friendly football tournament. Notable teams included the "Political Stars", "Religions Stars", and "Ex-Black Stars". This event was broadcast across the country and featured leaders coming together to speak to the value of justice and peace, and the need to move forward as a united people.
"We are here because every one of us believes in peace and peace building. Our same dream is a stable, united, peaceful, Ghana to move forward and showcase democracy for Africa."
-Dr. Kwabena Adjei, NDC's national chairman
This historic election will set the tone for politics and democracy in the country for years to come, and I personally look forward to seeing if the country can come together where many other countries would backtrack into civil unrest and political violence. Their history of free elections and stable rule of law has made the country attractive for international investors, leading the Ghanaian economy to grow significantly over the past decade. Lately, apprehension over the forthcoming results has slowed investment, as investors wait to see how the country reacts to this historic court ruling. Any deviation in the country's character could have significant impacts on a development trajectory that depends on foreign investment. This is something I look forward to investigating in greater detail in later posts.