Monday, December 22, 2008

Politics

So, if you've heard about Ghana in the news lately (or a recent story in The Economist) it's most likely been due to the recent national elections. Ghana is being heavily scrutinized because it is (a) one of Africa's stable, multiparty democracies and (b) the last two national elections in Africa have been tragic. Kenya's descended into violence and Zimbabwe's the systematic repression of the opposition.

Ghana's political world is primarily divided between two major parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which has been in power for the last 8 years, and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which was in power for the eight years prior under Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings, who was both Ghana's last military ruler as well as it's first elected President. There are also a handfull of smaller parties, notably the Constitution People's Party (CPP) which plays a role sort of like the Green Party in the U.S. I don't have a firm grasp of what policy proposals the parties were offering, but my Ghanaian friend and language trainer who I used to talk politics with back in training was fed up with all of them for making unrealistic promises. And they can make some promises, because Ghana is developing a modest, newly discovered oil reserve that will give the next President some serious cash to play with, a few extra billion to fund some mixture of social programmes and development agendas.

Anecdotally, it looked to us like the NPP was going to walk away with this thing, but something seemed to happen in the last couple weeks before the election (on December 7th) and it got really, really close. The NDC was able to make up some of the ground that was lost on the basis of (I THINK, it is REALLY hard to discuss politics with people when you don't have much language in common) some kind of corruption or money management scandal. Ghana's constitution stipulates that the winning party must get 50% plus 1 of the available votes, and what ended up happening was that the CPP and other small parties like the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) played a spoiler role and both the NPP and the NDC finished under 50% (with the NPP narrowly ahead).

The two major parties now proceed to a runoff election on December 28th. It's been real cool to be here during the election. It's a little bit more...spirited... than what happens in the states, but not all that different. We (Peace Corps) are being a little more cautious, so I won't be on the net much for the next couple weeks.

In closing...Allison could you please send me your email address? For some reason I can't find it....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Sam,

Our email address is lostgullfarm@mac.com. I'll also email you with it. I'm not sure if you're checking email regularly, so figured I'd leave it in both spots.

I hope that you had a very Merry Christmas so far away from home. Waterville got 18" of snow last week, so its been feeling very wintery already. Eric, Finn and I got snow boards, and are planning to get to Mt. Abram for a lesson sometime soon. We were planning to go today (Dec. 26) but its opening day, school vacation, etc. so we figured it would be very busy and not a good day to learn.

We're anxiously awaiting Jan 20th. Honestly, I still don't think that it has sunk in that Obama won the election! I am very excited to see some action, since things seem to just keep getting worse in the meantime. Strangely enough, however, GW seems to have become more articulate in his final days....sure does make me wonder!

Be safe over there. I have no grip whatsoever on how safe or unsafe it is over there....but it the little that you've written it sounds like there's a realistic acknowledgment of the reality...

I've heard a bit more of Ghana and Accra in the news since much of the reporting on the current situation in Guinea has come out of Accra. Have you seen/heard of the happenings there from the perspective of Ghana? I can only assume that reporters have set up camp so far away from the actual site of the news since it is the closest stable country. Either way, I think of you every time I hear of news from that part of the world and wish you well.

Love,

Allison