Hope for peace on August 29

As Thursday, August 29 approaches, political tension grows in Ghana.  On TV, radio and in public appearances, Ghana’s political and religious leaders call for peace and acceptance.  I have heard rumors of a mandatory curfews Thursday through Sunday.  I have been advised to stay home on Thursday and to withdraw extra cash beforehand to prepare for a worst-case scenario.   This Thursday, the Ghana Supreme Court will announce their ruling on a petition challenging the results of the country’s 2012 presidential election, and many Ghanaians are concerned about possible reactions to the ruling, the worst of which could be violence or civil war.

Within days of the Electoral Commission’s declaration that the National Democratic Party’s (NDC) candidate and incumbent John Dramani Mahama won the election, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) filed a petition with the Supreme Court to review the election results because of alleged vote tampering by Ghana’s Electoral Commission.  The NPP, who believes their candidate Nana Akufo-Addo should have won, has presented many points of election misconduct, most notably missing, altered and duplicate “pink sheets” (used to submit certified vote counts) that were collected from over 11,000 polling stations around the country.  The NDC insists that election was administered within the confines of the law.

The first few weeks of my assignment at the Millennium Villages Project Bonsaaso, workers in the main offices, like most of the nation, almost always had at least one ear-bud inserted to listen to radio coverage of the hearings.  On breaks, they were gathered around the TV.   After the hearings, we listened to the media’s continuous speculation about the outcome, and pleas for a peaceful reaction to the ruling were being broadcast in earnest.   Both sides presented final arguments to the court a few weeks ago, and now we await their ruling.

Although both parties are urging their supporters to accept the Supreme Court’s ruling, whatever it may be, the possibility for violence does exist.  I don’t want to get sucked into over-dramatization by the local media and its patrons, but I also don’t want to get caught unprepared.   I will take the necessary precautions, and then I will witness a political event unlike any other I’ve witnessed.  It is an exciting time to be in Ghana — to observe its relatively new political and legal systems at work.  I want to believe that national pride and the desire to demonstrate political stability will win out over violence.  I am cheering for Ghana to shine on Thursday, to show confidence in their systems, to apply lessons learned during this election to the next one, and to set a positive example for other developing nations.


  1. Wow Sarah – did you think you signed up for this??

    I’ve enjoyed following your posts and you are quite the literary gal!

    I hope you are doing well and co-habitating well with your roomies.

    Take care,

  2. What a cool time to be there. Stay safe and I will be watching the news this week and thinking of my buddy Sarah…..

  3. Ghana was so welcoming and wonderful when I was there. So sad to hear that the island of peace in West Africa might not continue to live up to its reputation. Best wishes for you and all the other PULSE volunteers there.

    1. Michelle, thanks for your comment! I’ve also enjoyed Ghana’s hospitality. I have been overwhelmed with the welcome I have received here. Everyone, literally everyone, I’ve met has gone out their way to help me in any way they can. I think that Ghana has tremendous national pride and that tomorrow will pass without incident (except maybe a few minor scuffles). Akwaaba!

  4. Sarah, Just reading your post now and I see that, “Ghana’s Supreme Court has upheld President John Dramani Mahama’s win in elections last year, dismissing the opposition’s case alleging voter fraud in a test for one of Africa’s most stable democracies.” I hope this resolution brings peace and a strong democratic government to the people of Ghana and that you can now relax and continue your work with the Earth Institute. Best, Randee

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