New democratically elected president in Ghana

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Ghana’s new president holding the State Sword, his symbolic authority.

The morning air of Saturday Jan 7, 2017 at the Black Star Square in Accra was filled with the throbbing of the giant tra­ditional fontomfrom drums announcing the end of an era and the beginning of a new one as Ghana installed its long-time opposition leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the center-right New Patriotic Party as the president of Ghana. He defeated the then incumbent president John Dramani Mahama of the center-left National Democratic Con­gress who ruled the country from 2013 to 2016 after a national election held on Dec 7, 2016 following the death in office of his predecessor, John Evans Atta Mills.

The presidential investiture was broad­cast live on all national radio and televi­sion stations and online. Millions of citi­zens attended the event while millions more joined online. It was a colorful ceremony draped with patriotic cultural and military displays, and was honored by presidents and government represen­tatives from all over the world including Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Libe­ria, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, Ala­sane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivoire, Mahamu­du Buhari of Nigeria, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mba­sogo of Equatorial Guinea, Edgar Lungu of Zambia and Patrice Talon of Benin.

The peaceful nature of the political tran­sition demonstrates Ghana’s role as the leader of democratic governance in West Africa, a region that is plagued with coup d’états and leadership by “strong men’ The case of Gambia is an example where the incumbent president refused to relin­quish power to the opposition party de­spite losing last year’s national election.

In his inaugural address, the new presi­dent encouraged the citizens to be hope­ful in the face of the seeming economic hardships that the country is currently undergoing, saying “there are brighter days ahead.” He invoked some historical figures as inspiration to charge all Gha­naians to take responsibility for the de­velopment of their various communities and the nation. The 72-year-old former Attorney General and lawyer promised to instill discipline in his government to curb corruption, open the country for business, and establish a factory in ev­ery administrative district of the coun­try to reduce the rate of unemployment.

Akufo-Addo is a child of William Akufo-Addo, a former ceremonial pres­ident of Ghana. He was educated in Ghana and the UK, earning a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Univer­sity of Ghana. He studied Law in the U.K. and was called to both the English Bar (Middle Temple) in 1971 and the Ghanaian Bar in 1975. After working in the Paris office of the New York law firm Coudert Brothers LLP that faced dissolution in 2006, he co-established Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co, a prom­inent law firm in Ghana. He was ac­claimed a human rights activist during the military administrations of Ghana.

Akufo-Addo had contested for the presidency of Ghana in 2008 and 2012. In 2008, he received 49.13 percent of votes and in 2012, the Electoral Com­mission declared him as the loser of the election. He contested the decision in Ghana’s Supreme Court where he lost by a narrow 4 judges’ votes to five in fa­vor of Mahama. During the 2016 elec­tion, Akufo-Addo won 53.83 percent of the votes. His vice president is Alhaji Dr. Mahammudu Bawumia, a Ph.D. in Eco­nomics from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Linford Odartey Lamptey, a Ghana­ian master student in Rhetoric, The­ory and Culture, told The Lode that “the new president comes to the of­fice with lots of experiences” and he hopes the he is able to fulfill the plans for which the citizens elected him.