Ghana swears in new President as ECOWAS mulls action against Gambia

Accra (Ghana), Jan 7 IANS) On a day that the West African country of Ghana has sworn-in a new President after an election, leaders of the regional political grouping Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are meeting to deliberate on what action to take against a member country, Gambia, whose leader has declined to accept an election defeat.

At a ceremony in Accra, Ghana’s Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood swore-in Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 72, as the country’s new President replacing John Dramani Mahama.

On December 1 last year, Gambia President Yahya Jammeh lost an election to his opponent Adama Barrow and conceded defeat but on December 9 changed his mind citing “unacceptable abnormalities” in the conduct of the election.

He then annulled the results and has gone on to file a petition in the Supreme Court which will start hearing the case on January 10. The Gambian example seems to be at variance with the growth of democracy in the region.

Contrary to what is happening in Gambia, the elections in Ghana went without any hitch on December 7 and two days later, the incumbent President John Mahama conceded defeat before the Electoral Commission declared Nana Akufo-Addo winner.

Akufo-Addo won with 5,716,026 votes representing 58.35 per cent of total votes cast as against Mahama’s 4,713,277 votes representing 44.40 per cent of the 10,781,601 total votes recorded in the election.

Akufo-Addo won the election after the third attempt. He was beaten in 2008 by the late President John Evans Atta Mills and in 2012 by President Mahama. He served as Attorney General and Foreign Minister under former President John Kufuor.

Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony, Chairperson of the ECOWAS and President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said, leaders of the regional body were worried about what was happening in Gambia and asked that country’s leaders to emulate the example of Ghana by ensuring that democracy thrives in that country.

She said, “We call on the people of Gambia to follow the example of Ghana by accepting democratic rule,” adding that, “ECOWAS stands by the people of Gambia in their fight to ensure that democracy prevails.”

She said, when ECOWAS was born forty years ago, countries in the region were under military rule but over the past two decades have taken the lead in the democratic tradition, adding, “we cannot go back” because West Africa has transitioned into a democratic culture.

She said that the region was concerned about the political upheavals in the area, and that terrorist activities in Mali and Burkina Faso were affecting the peace and security of the people.

Sirleaf said Ghana had once again made the West Africa region proud with its tradition of changing leaders through a peaceful democratic process, adding that “democracy is the fruit of sacrifice brought about by political maturity.”

President Akufo-Addo said Ghana has been able to go through a change of government from one political party to another for the third time without any hitch because “it is what we do as a people.”