Friday, December 05, 2008

Elections in Ghana

Ghana, the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence - in 1957 - will have elections this coming week. After what happened in Kenya in December last year - that country too was regarded as stable until elections - and in Zimbabwe earlier this year, there might be some apprehension. Ghana also has recently discovered oil, always a problem - just look at neighboring Nigeria, whose oil wealth has been its bane.

(Video, via Ethan Zuckerman.)

But Ghana, everyone is saying, is different. Democracy has taken deep root there; the media and reporting scene is vibrant, the election commission strong. And the vote counting system - going by what this article says - is remarkably transparent:
During elections radio stations like the capital's JoyFM dispatch staff armed with mobile phones around the country.

The correspondent gives continuous live updates and reports by mobile phone to their media "election headquarters".

Once results are collated at the constituency, in the presence of party officials and electoral officers, the radio stations rapidly compile the results, broadcast them and a clear picture of the outcome is available within 24 hours.

The process has become too fast for old-fashioned election shenanigans.

JoyFM takes this a step further and publishes the results on the internet, thereby making it virtually impossible for a government to fiddle with results during a deliberate delay in their release by a government-controlled electoral commission as is the case elsewhere in Africa.
That's quite impressive; with such accountability, everything should be fine next week. Still, there will always be some some tension; besides the race is close. Fingers will be crossed.

1 comment:

Krishnan said...

Hari, you have been awarded. Please come and pick it up.