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General News of Friday, 10 November 2000

Source: BBC

US Republicans inspire Ghana's NPP

Ghanaians are watching closely events in the US, as they brace themselves for their own general elections less than a month away. Political leaders as well as ordinary people are looking for trans-Atlantic inspiration, clues and good omen.

The main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) - hoping that a change of administration would inspire Ghanaians also to vote for change - were rooting for Republican George W Bush.

NPP supporters were jubilant when the television networks prematurely pronounced Mr Bush president. This was, of course, short-lived. And like the US Republican party, Ghana's NPP uses an elephant as its political party symbol.

Speaking on a radio phone-in programme, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, campaign manager for the NPP's presidential candidate, John Kufuor, drew analogies between the US and Ghanaian presidential races.

Motivated by examples from Senegal, Yugoslavia and the Ivory Coast, where incumbents had lost the elections, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said a win for Mr Bush would be a good omen for Ghana's opposition candidate.

Several ministers in President Jerry Rawlings' administration, however, would like to see the Democrat Al Gore in the White House, partly because of his party's links with Africa.

Communications minister, John Mahama said, "the Clinton administration was good to Africa and we can conclude that Mr Gore would continue on that path."

"Bush says Africa won't be a priority so naturally I'd be happy to see Gore elected," said Mr Mahama. But he stressed this was a personal and not an official government position.

President Clinton was the first US president to visit Ghana and many ordinary Ghanaians prefer his vice-president, Mr Gore, to Mr Bush. One civil servant described Mr Bush as "a bushman" because he has travelled overseas only three times in his entire life, less than the number of trips most Ghanaian village chiefs have made abroad.

But the biggest concern among many Ghanaians is what would happen here if a presidential candidate was declared winner only for the announcement to be quickly retracted?

Accusations and counter accusations would ensue, fist fights would erupt and total mayhem break out