It’s a triumph for Africa

Wednesday January 7 2009

Ghana’s new President, Mr John Evans Atta Mills, was sworn in on Wednesday in a ceremony that gave Africa a reason for celebration.

He won a razor-thin mandate, squeezing just slightly over 50 per cent of the vote to beat his sole challenger in the run-off poll, Mr Nana Akufo-Addo of the former ruling New Patriotic Party.

The thin margin would have given justification for protracted post-election strife, but the people and leadership of Ghana thought differently and gave a peaceful transition a chance.

This served to spare the continent political acrimony and probable bloodbath, and served to obliterate the negative impression that Africa is a continent of chaos, death and disease.

It was a stark contrast to the ugly scenes witnessed in Kenya after the 2007 elections, Zimbabwe after the stolen elections of March and June last year, and coups in Guinea and Mauritania.

Indeed, this was a clear demonstration that Ghana has reclaimed its rightful position as a leading democracy, having pioneered, in 1956, to overthrow British colonialists and set the continent on the path to political liberation.

The message from Ghana is that African leaders must respect the verdict of the ballot, and most importantly, give a chance to free and fair elections, a clear harbinger to democracy and good governance.