Sunday, January 04, 2009

Opposition Leader Wins Presidency In Ghana

After the December 7 election proved indecisive, President-Elect Atta Mills won Sunday's second round ballot by capturing a razor-thin victory with 50.23% of the vote - or 4,521,032 ballots. Ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo garnered 49.77% - or 4,480,446 votes.

The 64-year-old politico served as vice president under former coup leader Jerry Rawlings, who stepped down in 2001, and he will have to dispel any notion his rule could hark back to Mr. Rawling's strongman era. Ensuring economic growth will be his biggest challenge. Ghana's economy has been growing by more than 6% a year, investment is up 20-fold over the last decade, and oil is eventually expected to bring in between $2 and $3 billion a year. But the New York-based Eurasia Group consulting firm says Ghana's economy is projected to slow along with the rest of the world, and President-Elect Atta Mills will "grapple with a growing budget...high rates of youth unemployment, falling remittance and aid levels, and surging inflation." Most Ghanaians remain among the world's poorest, earning an average $3.80 a day. A tenth of the adult population is unemployed, and 40% are illiterate.

Some analysts had feared violence. They pointed to Kenya, which also was a model of stability in Africa until a similarly tight 2007 race unleashed weeks of tribal bloodshed and mayhem. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan - a Ghanaian-born diplomat who helped broker peace in Kenya last year - flew home New Year's Day and had been working quietly behind the scenes to calm tensions in his native Ghana. President John Kufuor also appeared instrumental, calling on both sides - including his own ruling party - to accept the results.

Born July 21, 1944, President-Elect Atta Mills spent much of his career teaching at the University of Ghana and served as a tax chief under Mr. Rawlings. The married father earned a doctorate degree from London's School of Oriental and African Studies before becoming a Fulbright scholar at Stanford University.

H/T BookerRising

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