Profile of Ghana’s New Leader

Ghana’s President elect Nana Akufo-Addo takes the oath of office during the swearing-in ceremony lead by Ghana Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood at Independence Square in Accra, Ghana January 7, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Nana Akufo-Addo has been sworn in as Ghana’s new president after beating incumbent leader John Mahama in last month’s election. Heads of state from across Africa and thousands of guests and dignitaries watched him take the oath of office at a ceremony in the capital, Accra.

Mr Akufo-Addo, a 72-year-old former human rights lawyer, promised free high school education and more factories. But critics have questioned the viability of his ambitions. Mr Akufo-Addo repeated the presidential oath after it was read out to him at a ceremony in the capital’s Independence Square on Saturday. Taking the oath of office, which represents the latest peaceful handover of power in the country, Mr Akufo-Addo promised to “protect and defend” Ghana’s constitution.

He later posted the full text of the presidential oath on the social media site Twitter, using the hashtag #Inauguration2017. Mr Akufo-Addo, from the New Patriotic Party, was elected on his third attempt to reach the post, after a campaign dominated by the country’s faltering economy. Major roads in and around the capital were cordoned off for Saturday’s event.


Brief Profile of Nana Akufo-Addo

The New Presoident

Mr Akufo-Addo had lost previous elections in 2008 and 2012 but the way he handled those losses resonated with many people. He is credited with preventing possible violence in 2012 by not rejecting the outcome – a loss by 300,000 votes to current President John Mahama – and calling for mass protests. Instead, he sought legal redress and accepted defeat after the Supreme Court upheld the result. The 72-year-old son of former chief justice and ceremonial President Edward Akufo-Addo retained his 2012 electoral promise to provide free high-school education. But the former lawyer, attorney general and foreign minister’s main campaign promise was a “one district, one factory” policy that he says will industrialise the country.

The plan is to establish factories in each of Ghana’s 216 districts. “The time has come for us to move our industrial development forward,” the presidential candidate told a rally in eastern Ghana. “There must be jobs in our country. The lack of jobs, which is the case under this government, poses a threat to the future stability of our country.” In the north, Mr Akufo-Addo said there would be a functioning dam “in every village” to support agriculture.

His critics, mainly from the NDC, have dismissed his promises as impossible to fulfil – but Mr Akufo-Addo insists they are not just gimmicks. Mr Akufo-Addo’s wife Rebecca was part of his campaign. She told a TV show that he was a “very loving” family man. “He is also passionate about his politics. He’s always cared about Ghana and wanted to do his bit for his country,” she added. Mr Akufo-Addo is credited with helping to build up the NPP, which first contested an election in 1992 when Ghana returned to multiparty democracy after years of military rule. His political career spans more than four decades and he was active in political movements in his early 30s, when he criticised the military government of the time.

He studied in both Ghana and the UK before working as a lawyer in France and served as an MP for the Abuakwa South constituency in eastern Ghana between 1996 and 2008. Mr Akufo-Addo has vowed to revive the country’s economy, saying that “there are brighter days ahead”. An economic slump under Mr Mahama led to an International Monetary Fund bail-out. The former president has defended his record, saying his government had been up against “strong headwinds” that caused growth to slow, public sector debt to rise and the country’s currency, the cedi, to fall.

Ghana has been a multi-party democracy since the end of military rule in 1992 and the transition is seen as reinforcing its reputation for the peaceful transfer of power between administrations.

Source: BBC