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Wednesday, 3 January, 2001, 13:07 GMT
Reflections on Ghana's election
Opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters dance outside the Accra home of John Kufuor
Mr Kufuor's victory is a triumph for Ghanaian democracy
By Kwaku Sakyi-Addo in Accra

I have lost track of time since the election morning of Thursday 28 December. I am not sure what day it is today. For me night and day have merged.

My midnights have become as busy as my midday. Coffee has become my friend.

And I suspect that Georgette, my wife, is jealous by now, because of the amount of time I have spent this holiday season bonding with my laptop, as the light from the screen leaves its bluish gleam in my face in the dim light, and I caress the keyboard.

But reporting on an election for multiple media outlets is anything but romantic. Gruelling is more like it. It should compare favourably with grave-digging during a plague.

The difference here, though, is the outcome.

Thumbs up

Almost exactly to the day 19 years ago, when Jerry John Rawlings overthrew an elected government on New Year's Eve, his government has been removed by unarmed folks using their thumbprint.

John Atta Mills
Vice-President John Atta Mills: Conceded defeat graciously
Close to two-thirds of the people voted in the election run-off for another John -John Kufuor - who ran against still another John - John Atta Mills - the vice-president.

The pace of the run-off campaign was ferocious. The tone frightening at times. People called people names. Tribes pointed their fingers at tribes.

The political commercials were torrential. They took over the airwaves, as politics beat Christmas and stole its carols and cannibalised them into jingles with lyrics in praise of mortals instead of Jesus.

Few noticed the Islamic festival of Eid-al Fitr, except the sheep when butchers in flowing, white boubous led them to the slaughter shouting Allahu Akhbar; and Mr Atta Mills because he went to address the Muslims at prayer, hoping that it might make a difference to his dwindling fortunes. It didn't.

New age

As I kept wake on Thursday and Friday watching the results dripping in - and constituency after constituency kept going in favour of Kufuor, I would have given anything to be in Mills' mind as he went, I presume, in and out of the lavatory.

John Kufuor
John Kufuor: President-elect for a new era
On Friday night, Mills telephoned Kufuor and conceded defeat in the manner that has become the hallmark of politicians in all civilised nations when they lose an election.

However, President Rawlings does not seem to have taken the loss that well.

In a speech on Sunday, he alternated between genuine grace and throwing a few rotten grapes, as he veered off an otherwise decent script. What's new?

Well, Kufuor's presidency is new. And the year is new. Indeed, for us in Ghana where we have just been through the rites of political puberty, it is a new age.

Now that it's all over I expect to get some sleep. That too will be new.

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See also:

30 Dec 00 | Africa
Historic win for Ghana challenger
11 Dec 00 | Africa
Ghana votes for change
01 Dec 00 | Africa
Rawlings: The legacy
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