Ghana’s presidential vote to go on as planned despite COVID-19 threat

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo speaks at a past event. /Photo courtesy: Ghana Presidency

Ghana’s general elections will go on as planned in December despite the COVID-19 pandemic, President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a national address on Tuesday.

Akufo-Addo made the remarks a day before the West African nation started the registration of new voters ahead of the 7 December poll. He said the exercise was important in avoiding controversy after the end of his first term in office.

Ghana’s constitution gives no provision for the extension of the mandate of a President, who wields power, beyond four years.

“On 7th January, 2021, when my mandate as the current President expires, a duly elected person must be ready to be sworn in as President of the Republic. There is no other way, and in order to forestall any needless constitutional controversy, which could throw our nation into jeopardy, we must vote on 7th December 2020,” he added.

The 76-year-old has been nominated as the ruling New Patriotic Party’s candidate for the December vote, setting up a third consecutive head-to-head battle against former President John Dramani Mahama.

Akufo-Addo defeated Mahama in the 2016 election with 53.8 percent of the vote, cementing the West African nation’s reputation as a leading democracy in the region.

He said Ghana was able to hols safe elections despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has rattled the entire world.

Citing examples of countries such as South Korea, Poland, Mali and Malawi, who have all held elections in the midst of the pandemic, President Akufo-Addo noted that “it is not beyond Ghana to join these nations in organising a successful general election, even in the midst of the pandemic.”

The president urged eligible Ghanaians to register for the December poll, reiterating that it would shape the country’s future.

“It is, thus, vitally important that all eligible voters register, so, on the designated day of 7th December, they can vote to choose the President of the nation, and the Member of Parliament of their area. In effect, our vote, our thumb, is the expression of our individual sovereign power as a citizen, which we should cherish and guard at all times,” he said.

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