January 15, 2009

HARRISONBURG—Today in his weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, lauds Ghana’s recent democratic elections and peaceful transition as “a landmark positive development for the entire continent” of Africa and examines some of its implications.

According to Dr. Pham, credit needs to go to Ghana’s voters, its electoral commission and judiciary, the country’s political leaders, and its friends and international partners for the fact that the West African republic is now “the first African country where a democratically elected leader belonging to one political party makes way for a democratically elected successor from an opposition party two times in a row.”

Dr. Pham concludes:

All of this is not to say that President Atta-Mills does not have his work cut out for him. Not only will he have to work to bring the sharply divided electors of his country together (to this end, having a closely divided parliament may prove a blessing in disguise), but, over the course of his four-year term of office, he will have to be careful in his fiscal policymaking lest Ghana’s newfound oil wealth turn into the “resource curse” that has afflicted all-too-many of Africa’s resource-rich countries. More immediately, he will have to concentrate on taming the country’s annual inflation rate, which the Ghana Statistical Service estimates to have run up to 18.1 percent in December. However, at least for the moment, he and the nation he leads deserve to be able to glory in the fact that just as Ghana was the herald of African independence, it might also now be the vanguard of that freedom consolidated and prudently exercised.

To read the full text of the article, “Ghana Again Blazes the Trail for Africa,” click here.