CW 9/2021: Presidents only
Press Review 27 February 2021 to 5 March 2021

Ghana’s Supreme Court rejects opposition’s election petitions

After the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party announced late last year that it would challenge Ghana’s presidential election held in early December 2020, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the election petition filed by opposition leader John Mahama. According to the Supreme Court’s decision, the petition did not meet all the requirements for an election annulment and failed to prove that the alleged irregularities had decisively influenced the election result. Thus, Mahama’s attempt to reverse the validity of the election results as well as the declaration of incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo as the winner of the election and to call for new elections failed. According to official results, the incumbent Head of State Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) already won in the first round of voting with 51.30% of the votes against his main rival and predecessor in the presidency Mahama, who achieved an election result of 47.36% of the votes. This is the third time in a row that the two political rivals have faced each other in the presidential race, each achieving narrow victories. Despite the contestation of the election results and the deaths of five people linked to the ballot, international election observers are satisfied with Ghana’s electoral process, describing it as largely peaceful. Since the reintroduction of multiparty elections in the early 1990s, this was the eighth consecutive democratic election in Ghana. Moreover, complaints about electoral malpractices are not uncommon in the West African country, which is considered one of the most stable democracies on the African continent. They are increasingly seen as a means of improving elections to dispel doubts and concerns about the independence of the electoral commission. In the 2012 presidential election, Akufo-Addo petitioned for the annulment of Mahama’s narrow victory, but the petition was rejected after eight months of proceedings.

 

Preparing for decisive parliamentary elections in Ivory Coast 

Important parliamentary elections will take place in Ivory Coast this Saturday. For the first time in ten years, all of the country’s major opposition parties are taking part in the elections. Currently, the Houphouetist Rally for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), led by President Alassane Quattara, dominates the National Assembly. After he announced last year he was aiming for a third term, which he ultimately won, violent unrest broke out in which 87 people were killed and almost 500 injured. The opposition rejected the ballot in October and called for civil disobedience. The Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) under its chairman and former president Laurent Gbagbo is now also taking part in the upcoming elections. He was forced out of office in 2010 after months of conflict after he refused to accept the election defeat by Quattara. Gbagbo was charged with crimes against humanity but acquitted by the International Criminal Court in 2019 and has since been in exile in Brussels. Gbagbo’s FPI will run for parliamentary elections as part of a coalition entitled “Together for Democracy and Sovereignty” (EDS) and has allied itself with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI). With Henri Konan Bédié, the PDCI is also led by a former president and former ally of Quattara. The opposition’s goal is to win enough seats in parliament to prevent the RHDP from gaining an absolute majority. According to international observers, the election result could determine the future of the Ivorian parties. In particular, the elections will determine whether the opposition parties can regain power and whether Gbagbo will return to the forefront of Ivorian politics.

 

In other news

In the town of Koulikoro, near Mali’s capital Bamako, the “Ag’Na Festival” took place for the second time last weekend. The festival, whose name means “culture” in Tamasheq (the language of the Tuareg), is an opportunity for numerous musicians from all over Mali to meet and enjoy music. It is considered the successor to the esteemed “Festival au Désert” in Timbuktu, which has not been able to take place since 2014 due to security reasons. Manny Ansar, the director of both the “Festival au Désert” and the “Ag’Na Festival”, sees the latter as an opportunity to bring something from the popular festival in Timbuktu to southern Mali. For the first time this year, the event took place as a hybrid event. In addition, the film festival “Festival Ciné à dos” was incorporated into the Ag’Na Festival. Films from seven African countries competed against each other.

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