Ghana and the 'Obama effect'

Ghana just underwent a major political event, but Obama has ruined our relations with the country. Photo: Nana Awere Damoah - PicA - Ghanaians line up to vote in the 2012 general elections.

FORT SMITH, Ark., September 1, 2013 ― Last week, Ghana underwent a major political event: its Supreme Court made a decision about last year’s presidential election.

This was not well-covered by U.S. media, but it does affect America. Ghana is an oil-rich country and holds substantial amounts of gold and cocoa, making it one of the most economically powerful nations in Africa.

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In December 2012, Ghana held a presidential election. According to the Independent Electoral Commission, the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, the leader of the center-left National Democratic Congress (NDC), won by a slim margin with 50.7% of the vote.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) alleged voting irregularities and sued in defense of its candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo.

This situation widened the political divide in the region, causing the U.S. embassy in the country to fear political turmoil, according to a document it released on August 19. The document recommended “that U.S. citizens in Ghana monitor the local news and avoid all demonstrations, as even those intended to be peaceful may suddenly turn violent.” Thankfully, the embassy’s fears did not prove true.

A friend and popular blogger in the region, Godwin Delali Adadzie, offered his analysis.

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“As a Ghanaian, I am glad to see that we as a people have fully embraced democracy and choose to go by the pen instead of the sword in resolving electoral disputes. The NPP and its leader set a good example by looking to the Supreme Court instead of taking matters into their hands, even though the Supreme Court eventually dismissed their petition,” he opined.

“There was no conflict or war, and by the end of the day, Ghana won, not the ruling NDC.”

But what does this mean for the United States?

Many Ghanaians are unhappy about President Obama’s performance, and they are most especially unhappy with his past comments on homosexuality in Africa.

Obama abandoned diplomatic etiquette and criticized African governments over the issue of same-sex marriage, which is constitutionally banned by many of them, while he was in Senegal in June.

“So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you — the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law — people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember,” he said.

Obama was warmly welcomed by many in Ghana during his visit to the nation in 2009, but things have changed because of such rhetoric since then.

We need to care about Ghana, and we need to foster deeper relations with its democratic government. But we are not helped in this by our current President, who seems to have a disastrous effect on almost all of our important relationships.

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Matthew Olson

Matthew Olson is a journalist in Fort Smith, Arkansas. His primary interests are theology, Church history, and ecumenism. He enjoys the thrill of politics, and always seeks to enlighten politics with Catholic principles. He writes for The Washington Times, Ignitum Today, and other outlets.


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