Rawlings benefits from rural crusade.

Author:Offei-Ansah, Jon
Position:Ghana Pres. Jerry John Rawlings

Rural voters recently acknowledged Jerry Rawlings' economic reforms and granted the Ghanaian President another four years at the helm. What is the key to his success? JON OFFEI-ANSAH has some of the answers.

The recent Ghanaian elections, which saw Flight-Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings voted in for a second four-year term but his sixteenth year in power, demonstrated a refreshing commitment to democracy. Most agree that the event, conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, was devoid of malpractice. From an international perspective, which sees Africa as a myriad of military take-overs, civil wars and rampant poverty, Ghana's elections offer a more optimistic view of the future.

About 75% of Ghana's 9m registered voters visited the polls in December. The President received 57.4% of the votes; his main opponent, Mr John Agyekum Kufour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), gained 39.6%, and Mr Edward Mahama of the People's National Convention (PNC), trailed well behind with just 3%.

The President's party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), won 133 seats giving it a comfortable majority in the 200-seat Parliament. Notwithstanding, a number of former senior Government figures were not voted back in. Flt-Lt Rawlings will have to find replacements for Mr Steve Obimpeh, former Minister for Agriculture; Mr DS Boateng, Former Minister for Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Bosomtwi Sam, the former Government Chief Whip; Mr BA Fuseini, the former northern Regional Minister; and former Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Ibn Chambas.

Prior to both the Presidential and Parliamentary elections, popular expectation was that the results would be close. This was, in part, due to an alliance formed by the two main opposition parties, the NPP and former Vice-President, Mr Kow Nkensen Arkaah's People's Convention Party (PCP), under the leadership of Mr Kufour. Back in 1992, the opposition boycotted the elections amid claims that the Presidential elections had been rigged.

This time around, during the campaign period, opposition parties took a more pertinent strategy. Thirteen years of the NDC's adherence to structural adjustment policies have had a negative impact on Ghana's urban areas. The Opposition took advantage of this, asking the electorate to consider whether their living standards have really improved during this period. Indeed, the majority of votes for Flt-Lt Rawlings came from the rural areas - where most of the population live - thus reflecting the extent of urban...

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