Ghana’s Recent Democratic Erosion Belies Its Sterling Reputation

Ghana’s Recent Democratic Erosion Belies Its Sterling Reputation
Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, center, arrives for the opening session of the 33rd African Union Summit, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP Photo).

Since taking office in 2017, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has demonstrated a pattern of heavy-handedness, authoritarianism and impunity that belies his carefully crafted global image of a debonair and progressive African leader. The latest controversy involves a bill, supported by members of Akufo-Addo’s administration and key religious institutions in the country, that would criminalize displays of same-sex affection and advocacy for LGBTQ rights, punishable by up to a decade in prison. Ghana has long had a mixed record on protecting LGBTQ rights, but for much of the past four years in particular, LGBTQ Ghanaians—as well as their allies and advocates—have faced a chilling crackdown.

The draft anti-LGBTQ law is only part of a broader erosion of rights and freedoms in a country that is often portrayed as a rare democratic “success story” in West Africa. In 2018, Akufo-Addo fired the head of the electoral commission, Charlotte Osei, and replaced her with a reputed sympathizer of the ruling New Patriotic Party, or NPP. The dismissal, reportedly on grounds of financial malfeasance, drew condemnation from Ghanaian civil society groups, as the position had long been viewed as nonpartisan and Osei was a respected elections expert.

Then, in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, the government deployed the army to the eastern Volta region, ostensibly as a coronavirus mitigation measure and to stop migrants from neighboring Togo from crossing the border. One NPP lawmaker even called the deployment a “peacekeeping force” that was required to prevent foreigners from voting in the elections. 

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review