After the death of President John Evans Atta Mills, Ghana peacefully transferred power to its vice president – a reminder that not all political transitions in West Africa are violent.
Mr. Atta Mills's death came just months before Ghana's presidential and parliamentary elections, and it could set off a close contest between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its main rival, the New Patriotic Party.
But in West Africa – a region where coup d'états have been a common method for transferring power – a tightly contested political race is considered a distinct advantage.
“Most Ghanaians know that nothing will happen and the democratic process will continue to go on,” says Dr. Kwadwo Adjei Tutu of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a political think tank based in Accra. “But there could be a significant power play there" between those who supported Mills and those who supported the wife of NDC party founder and former President Jerry Rawlings, whose relationship had grown tense over the past
year.. "Mahama knows the political terrain and the scene. We will see how the power play goes on for him within his own party.”