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Vol 41 No 23

Published 24th November 2000


Ghana

A bandwagon for change

As President Rawlings prepares to bow out, the opposition parties have their best chance of winning power in a decade

One of Ghana's experienced political observers recently confided to a friend in Accra: 'For the first time in this country, I have no idea what is going to happen next.' He is not alone. The presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 7 December threaten to be even closer than in 1996. This time, the opposition parties look likely to tip the National Democratic Congress out of power. No one candidate seems capable of winning the minimum 50-plus-one per cent to get the presidency in the first round of voting. A second round, held in early January, would favour the New Patriotic Party's John Kufuor as the opposition candidate with the strongest political machine, bolstered by other opposition parties eager for change at the top. In the parliamentaries, the NPP is shaping up to be the biggest party but is unlikely to win a majority of the 200 seats. It would require support from smaller parties to form a government. Faced with the probability of an NPP-led opposition alliance winning both elections, the 'What happens next?' question is critical. Will the governing NDC and its presidential flagbearer, John Atta Mills, concede defeat? Indeed, will the outgoing President, Jerry John Rawlings, let them? For Ghana's conservative middle class and professionals, bedrock NPP supporters, there is a suspicious silence about the NDC's intentions if it loses. Rawlings and his National Security Minister, Kofi Totobi-Quakyi, have repeatedly said that the NPP leadership would die in opposition.

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