Akufo-Addo Takes over in Ghana, as Uncertainty Beclouds Gambia


Demola Ojo with agency reports

Heads of state from across Africa including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and thousands of guests and dignitaries were in attendance yesterday as Nana Akufo-Addo was sworn in as Ghana’s new president at a ceremony in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

It was another statement that democracy is increasingly the preferred choice of governance in Africa, with the successful transition in Ghana reinforcing the country’s reputation for the peaceful transfer of power between administrations.

Akufo-Addo took the oath of office as Ghana’s fifth president in its fourth republic, after beating John Mahama in last month’s election. Akufo-Addo, a 72-year-old former human rights lawyer, promised free high school education and more factories in Ghana.

Taking the oath of office in the capital’s Independence Square, he promised to “protect and defend” Ghana’s constitution and said he would reduce taxes to boost the economy, adding that Ghana was now “opened for business again”.
Akufo-Addo, from the New Patriotic Party, was elected on his third attempt to reach the post, after a campaign dominated by the country’s faltering economy.

In contrast to Ghana however, there seems to be no end in sight for the impasse in The Gambia, where incumbent President Yahya Jammeh has rejected the results of elections he lost last month.

After initially conceding defeat and congratulating his opponent, Adama Barrow, Jammeh – who has been in power for 22 years – has decided to challenge the result of the election, rather than hand over power to Barrow on the scheduled date of January 19.

This is despite entreaties by fellow African heads-of-state, ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations. ECOWAS leaders had earlier travelled to the Gambia to plead with Jammeh to hand over but he rebuffed their request and has been talking tough since.
African leaders led by Nigeria’s President Buhari were to meet yesterday on the sidelines of Akufo-Addo’s inauguration, to take a decision on how to resolve the political crisis in The Gambia.

Buhari was designated as the Mediator for The Gambia along with immediate past president of Ghana, John Mahama, at the ECOWAS Summit held December 17, last year in Abuja.
The summit also gave the terms of reference to include ensuring the safety of the President-elect, Adama Barrow, the political leaders and the entire population; upholding the result of the presidential election held in the Gambia on December 1, 2016 and ensuring that the President-elect is sworn into office on January 19, 2017, in conformity with the constitution of the country.

According to a statement from the presidency, President Buhari remains optimistic of a peaceful resolution of the impasse, in line with the laws and the constitution of The Gambia, and that the inauguration of Adama Barrow as new president of The Gambia on January 19 is still possible.