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Published 16th November 2012

Vol 53 No 23


Ghana

Elections 2012: Mahama ahead by a hair

GHANA Obuasi: Gold pouring into moulds that form gold bars. Jacob Silberberg / Panos
GHANA Obuasi: Gold pouring into moulds that form gold bars. Jacob Silberberg / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Oil, gas, gold, education and health dominate a landmark election in which the main contenders may again be fewer than just 50,000 votes apart

It has been Ghana’s longest-ever campaign and electors are being offered a real choice of policies and people but still the two major parties are running neck-and-neck ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections on 7 December. The centre-left National Democratic Congress under President John Dramani Mahama has maintained a slight lead, according to local and international pollsters. Yet the NDC is fighting off criticism that it has not maximised the economic potential of new oil and gas production and that it remains hamstrung by corruption and chronically inefficient public services.


Contributions gratefully received

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BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

No one could accuse West Africa of rushing into a war in northern Mali. It is eight months since the putsch by dissident soldiers in Bamako against President Amadou Toumani Touré and the subsequent takeover of the north by jihadist militias. It was not until 11 November that the Economic Community of West African States met in Abuja and finally agreed to send in troops: 3,300 from

No one could accuse West Africa of rushing into a war in northern Mali. It is eight months since the putsch by dissident soldiers in Bamako against President Amadou Toumani Touré and the subsequent takeover of the north by jihadist militias. It was not until 11 November that the Economic Community of West African States met in Abuja and finally agreed to send in troops: 3,300 from Nigeria, Niger, Senegal and Burkina Faso. They will fight beside the 5,000 Malian soldiers who will lead the campaign to reconquer the three northern provinces: Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. France, Britain and Germany are offering 200 military trainers and air support. Neighbouring Algeria and Mauritania won’t join the campaign but have promised not to obstruct it and may help with logistics.

The military plan has been accepted by Ecowas and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. This week, the Chairwoman of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is in Paris meeting top officials at the same time as Niger’s President, Mahamadou Issoufou, who has already toured Europe to alert governments to the growing security threats in the Sahel. Next stop is the United Nations Security Council, which asked to see the detailed plan by 26 November. It is also expected to back it unanimously and offer finance. France wants the soldiers to move as soon as possible, Britain and the United States argue for better if lengthier preparation. Military action is unlikely before January at the earliest.

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