By Abayomi Azikiwe
All across the continent the continuing dependency on trade with the Western states has resulted in another round of uncertainty. Recent national elections in the West African state of Ghana were heavily influenced by the growing crisis in various economies throughout the region.
Recent national elections in the West African state of Ghana were heavily influenced by the growing crisis in various economies throughout the region.
Ghana, which was hailed over the last few years for its phenomenal growth rates, during April 2015, was approved for assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) valued at $US918 million.
Ghana is no stranger to the IMF when during the final days of the First Republic led by President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) founder sought help from the Bretton Woods institution just prior to a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and United States State Department engineered police-military coup against the socialist-oriented government in February 1966.
Incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, the leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) ruling party evoked the industrial legacy of the Nkrumah administration during the elections saying that he would revive at least some of the 600 development projects which were in operation by early 1966 at the time of the Washington-backed coup.
Over the last two years Ghana has suffered from inflation creating conditions for mass demonstrations demanding measures to improve the national economy.
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), which is the successor to the conservative and right-wing anti-Nkrumaist political tradition in Ghana, utilized the economic difficulties to accuse the Mahama administration of mismanagement.
In an article published by Lexology.com, it says of the present situation in Ghana that:
“Something had to give as West Africa’s second largest economy hit the buffers. When alternative financing options failed, Ghana turned to the IMF in April 2015 accepting a near $1bn extended credit facility. Some $465m has so far been disbursed to date and in September 2016 the country also raised $750m through a bond auction that was more than four times oversubscribed. Yet the new President faces a daunting task. While his party has a reputation for prudence, and being the party of business, in October the IMF said Ghana’s economic growth for 2016 will slow to its lowest for more than 25 years. Growth is expected to be 3.3 percent, the slowest since 1990 against 3.9 per cent in 2015.” (Dec. 19)
A change in government may not improve the economic situation inside the country. There have been conflicting opinions over whether the incoming NPP administration should renegotiate the terms of the IMF package.
If there is no change in the character of the agreement it will illustrate clearly that the incoming government does not have any substantial ideas that would distinguish its approach to the crisis.
The elections in the small state of Gambia were also influenced by economic considerations in the largely agriculturally and tourist-based economy. President Yahya Jammeh, a former lower-ranking military officer who staged a bloodless coup over two decades ago, had initially accepted defeat in the polls.
However, several days later, he reversed his view and rejected the results. His stance has prompted a regional crisis where a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was deployed to the country in efforts aimed at avoiding a constitutional dilemma.
Jammeh’s opponent, a businessman Adama Barrow, has expressed fears for his life. ECOWAS leaders headed by Nigerian President Muhammadu Burhari and Ghana President Mahama have threatened harsher action if Jammeh refuses to relinquish control of the state.
Reports indicated that Jammeh dispatched troops to the electoral commission headquarters in Banjul on the eve of the visit by the regional delegation. Jammeh, in a nationally televised address on December 9 said there was overwhelming evidence that the elections were rigged in favor of Barrow who ran as a compromise candidate representing several other opposition parties.
African Electoral Politics, Instability and the Burgeoning Economic Crisis
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