Ghana, country, Africa: The Rawlings Years and the Reestablishment of Democracy

The Rawlings Years and the Reestablishment of Democracy

In 1979, Flight Lt. J. J. Rawlings overthrew the government and purged the country of opposition, then turned the government over to an elected president, Dr. Hilla Limann. The international community disapproved of Rawlings's tactics, and Nigeria cut Ghana's crude oil supply. Poor economic conditions, restrictions on the press, and allegations of corruption led to popular discontent.

Rawlings seized power again in 1981 and tightened his political control throughout the 1980s. He enlisted economic help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and in the late 1980s the economy began to show significant growth. In 1992 the government promulgated a new constitution and lifted the ban on opposition parties. Later that year, Rawlings easily won a disputed presidential election. In 1994 several thousand people were killed and many more displaced in ethnic fighting in northern Ghana. In the 1996 elections, which were generally termed fair, Rawlings was returned to power.

Ghana's economic recovery continued into the late 1990s. Under the constitution, Rawlings could not run for reelection in 2000. In the December elections, the candidate of the opposition New Patriotic party (NPP), John Agyekum Kufuor, was elected president; the NPP also won a near majority in the parliament. The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) was hurt by the declining economy. Kufuor oversaw improvement in the economy, although poverty remained widespread in Ghana, and in Dec., 2004, he won reelection and the NPP secured a majority in the parliament. N Ghana experienced some of its worst flooding in decades in Sept., 2007, especially along the White Volta.

In the Dec., 2008, elections, John Atta Mills, who had twice lost to Kufuor, finally won the presidency after a runoff; Atta Mills's NDC also won the largest bloc of seats in the parliament. Atta Mills died in office in July, 2012, and was succeeded by his vice president, John Dramani Mahama. Mahama won the presidency in his own right in the Dec., 2012, elections, and the NDC won parliamentary majority. The NPP unsuccessfully contested the results in court. Hurt by an economic slowdown, Mahama lost his Dec., 2016, bid for a second term to the NPP's Nana Akufo-Addo, whom he had defeated in 2012. The NPP also secured a majority in parliament. In 2020, Akufo-Addo won reelection; Mahama again was his main opponent. The NPP, however, lost its parliamentary majority, winning the same number of seats as the NDC.

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