Ghana has since the introduction of constitutional democracy in 1992 been a stable democracy.
Ghana has since the introduction of constitutional democracy in 1992 been a stable democracy. Changes of government between the two dominant parties, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have generally been smooth.
After a few turbulent decades following the independence in 1957, Flight Lieutenant JJ Rawlings completed the country's fifth military coup in 1981, with the declared aim to lay the foundations for a modern democratic state. Rawlings won the subsequent presidential elections in 1992 and 1996 for the NDC, which he had founded. He stayed in power until 2000 when the presidential election was won by the NPP presidential candidate John Kufuor. Kufuor stayed in office until 2008, after re-election in 2004.
Presidential and parliamentary elections were held on 7 December 2012. John Dramani Mahama won the presidential elections in the first round with 50.7 % of the votes and NDC retained parliamentary majority. The elections have generally been hailed as free and peaceful. Despite President Mahama’s inauguration January 7, 2013, the flag bearer of the major opposition party NPP, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has not yet acknowledged defeat. The NPP filed a Presidential Election Petition against Ghana’s Electoral Commission, claiming electoral irregularities in favour of Mahama, but the Supreme Court required the petitioners to present a more detailed information on their petition.
Ghana’s respect for human rights is recognised by international organisations as critical, sustained or systematic violations do not occur. However, police violations are reported regularly and detainees often wait long to get their case before a judge. Conditions in prisons are unsatisfactory and the government has promised to improve the conditions for the inmates.
Ghana has ratified the main UN conventions on human rights and freedom of the press is respected. However, the UN states that human rights violations continue to occur particularly with regards to trafficking and sexual assault. Women's rights have been violated in the name of traditional customs and as Ghana is still a male dominated society challenges remain concerning gender equality.
The Constitution provides freedom of religion and Ghana is a good example of how Christians and Muslims can live side by side in respect of each other's religion. The Constitution also guarantees freedom of speech and assembly and it forbids the use of torture. There are furthermore proscriptions against discrimination against race, sex, disability, linguistic and social status. However, homosexuality remains a controversial topic in Ghana.
Although Ghana's government has declared a "zero tolerance" towards corruption, studies show clearly that corruption occurs, especially in the police, customs and judiciary system, but also in the education and health sector. Ghana was in 2012 ranked 64 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Among African countries Ghana was rated number 8.
Besides close commitment to the African Union (AU), Ghana's foreign policy is based on "good neighbourliness" with its centrepiece being the West African region and ECOWAS economic Community of West African States), consisting of 15 countries. Apart from the relationship to the nearest French-speaking neighbours, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Togo, the relation to Nigeria is of particular importance to Ghana. Ghana is mindful threats from terrorism, organised crime, drug trafficking and piracy. Threats which are best handled through a regional approach. The overthrowing of the democratic government in Mali is therefore followed closely by the government, and the intervention by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to help the government regain control of the Northern part of the country is supported by the Ghanaian government with a team of 120 equipped personnel.
The conflict arisen from the presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire in late 2010 put pressure on Ghana. Ghana was not prepared to contribute to a military intervention in the neighbouring country unless all other options had been exhausted. At the same time Ghana was not prepared to break the united, strong position, that ECOWAS in particular was able to muster and which was then followed up by both the UN and the AU. African unity has been central to Ghanaian foreign policy ever since the independence. Ghana was thus the founder of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the AU. Therefore Ghanaian governments always lean close to AU on international issues. Ghana also founded the Non-Aligned Movement and entered the G77 group, and other South-South collaborations that continue to play a major role in the Ghanaian foreign policy. For both political and economic reasons the relations to the BRIC countries have been increased.
Ghana was a member of the UN Security Council in 2006-7. Its contribution was generally constructive, e.g. in relation to Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. Ghana is a major contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, and currently Ghanaian troops (military, police and civilian) are involved in a number of UN missions in Africa.
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