‘‘All of Africa was looking at Ghana to make sure that they live up to their reputation and their name of being a mature democracy,’’ he said.
Like most of its neighbors Ghana, a nation of 25 million, was once a troubled nation that suffered five coups and decades of stagnation, before turning a corner in the 1990s. It is now a pacesetter for the continent’s efforts to become democratic.
The incumbent Mahama, a former vice president, was catapulted into office in July after the unexpected death of President John Atta Mills, an ascension that was itself praised as a democratic example, because the constitutional order of succession was swiftly applied by the government and unanimously accepted by the population. Before becoming vice president in 2009, the 54-year-old Mahama served as a government minister and a member of parliament.
Akufo-Addo is a former foreign minister and the son of one of Ghana’s previous presidents.
Both candidates tried to make the case that they would use the nation’s oil riches to help the poor. Besides being one of the few established democracies in the region, Ghana also has the fastest-growing economy. Oil was discovered in 2007 and the country began producing it in December 2010. But a deep divide still exists between those benefiting from the country’s oil, cocoa and mineral wealth, and those left behind financially.