Ghana’s presidential and general elections in December will be roiled. The remaining 5 months of campaigning just became bumpier.
Expect several potential excitements, especially within the ruling NDC party. These are some of the immediate implications from the death in Accra, a few hours ago, of President John Attah-Mills.
For one thing NDC must formally select its candidate to replace the dead president. Newly sworn-in President Mahama should be considered the front-runner. However, he could be challenged. The former first lady, Nana Rawlings (she and I were student activists/athletes during the early 1970s at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology in Kumasi) is very ambitious. Last year she challenged the dead president during the NDC party primaries but lost badly. And she does possess considerable clout—including being co-founder of NDC and having at her disposal the considerable talents, energy and influence of her husband, former-president Rawlings. Another factor will be the twists and turns of President Mahama's relations over the years with Mr & Mrs Rawlings.
Even if President Mahama becomes the selected NDC candidate, the regional dynamics during the December presidential elections may be upended. Mahama hails from a part of the country generally accepted to have seen less political power and economic development.
Finally, there will be the mood Ghana's electorate in December: Will voters be predominantly swayed by the relative youth and political freshness of Mahama or by NPP candidate Nana Akufo-Addo “having paid his political dues” or by sympathy and condolences for President Mills’ death?
All in all, the campaign could go into any number of directions and the dust must settle a bit more before things become clearer.
Nii Akuetteh is an African policy expert and analyst based in Washington, D.C.