CW 50/2020: Who holds the power, can…
Press Review 5 December 2020 to 11 December 2020

Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo re-elected

In Ghana’s presidential elections last Monday, incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo narrowly won with 51.59% of the vote. This enables the 76-year-old to commence his second four-year term as the West African country’s head of state. Opposition leader and former president, John Mahama, received 47.36% of the vote. Although the election results were announced two days after the ballot, the counting of the parliamentary election is still ongoing. Voter turnout stood at 79%, the same level that was present in 2012. A few polling stations opened late and there were isolated cases of vote rigging reported by the electoral commission. However, there were no major setbacks in the country’s 38,000 polling stations. Local and international election observers attested to transparent, free and fair elections. Nevertheless, Mahama, 62, did not immediately recognize the election results, stating that his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), had won a parliamentary majority. He accused Akufo-Addo of obtaining military assistance to sway the result in his favor. The government immediately denied the allegations. This is the third time in a row that the two candidates have faced one another in a presidential election. In 2012, Mahama narrowly won, and in the 2016 elections, Akufo-Addo succeeded as president with his New Patriotic Party (NPP). This year, a total of 12 candidates vied for the presidency, including Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the widow of recently deceased former President Jerry John Rawlings. Since the constitutional amendment to multiparty democracy in 1992, Ghana has had seven elections with four peaceful transfers of power. The two main parties, the NPP and the NDC, always accepted the election results. Any disputes were settled through the courts.

 

Tshisekedi announces end of ruling coalition in D.R. Congo

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the struggle for power in the central African nation is significantly heating up. On Sunday, President Félix Tshisekedi announced the end of the governing coalition with the Front Commun pour le Congo (FCC), led by his predecessor Joseph Kabila, in a widely publicised speech. At the same time, he announced the appointment of an official to explore new options of possible governing coalitions. If no agreement can be reached, Tshisekedi wants to dissolve parliament and call new elections. However, even among experts it is unclear to what extent Tshisekedi would really take the risk of new elections. Given his disputed election, which is widely seen as a deal between him and Kabila, popular support for him and his party is considered questionable. The FCC, meanwhile, accuses Tshisekedi of breaking the constitution through this move of cutting ties with the coalition. Conflicts have been simmering for several months between Tshisekedi and his party, Cap pour le changement (CACH), on the one hand, and former President Kabila and the FCC on the other. Tshisekedi’s political course is heavily dependent on the approval of Kabila, whose party not only holds a two-thirds majority in parliament but also provides the prime minister. A series of high-profile arrests and corruption trials of officeholders from Kabila’s party carried out in 2020 are interpreted as a sign that Tshisekedi is seeking a change in the balance of power to gain leeway to implement his policies. Tshisekedi scored an important milestone victory on the road to a possible new governing coalition yesterday (Thursday). This occurred after CACH deputies, working with other parties, declared the speaker of the National Assembly, Jeanine Mabunda, who belongs to the Kabila camp, ousted out by a majority of 281 votes to 200.

 

In other news

In Senegal, pigeon racing, an unfamiliar sport in the country, is rapidly gaining popularity. In this sport, the birds compete against each other over various distances, with the winner being the one that returns in the quickest time-frame. Currently, there are about 350 pigeon racing fans throughout the West African country, most of whom are youths. The sport is not only a hobby, but also a source of income. A race can earn a pigeon trader the equivalent of a few hundred euros. However, pigeon racing is not for the faint-hearted. Pigeon breeding is a labor-intensive and time-consuming activity. Furthermore, pigeon-owners are required to feed and care for the birds from 7 a.m. before releasing them for training.

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