Those who have followed Ghana's progress since gaining independence in March 1957 must have applauded the peaceful acceptance of the Supreme Court ruling on the validity of the December 2012 elections. The verdict endorsed the narrow victory of John Dramani Mahama over his rival, Nana Akufo-Addo, and in doing so consolidated the sixth successive democratic election of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. It is tempting to assume that after 20 years of peaceful elections, democracy in Ghana is now permanently established. However, Ghanaians suffered under the dictatorship of one party and numerous military regimes before this happy outcome was achieved, so they can offer hope to all sister nations that still suffer from these growing pains.

Ghana began life as a monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Prime Minister Kwame Nrumah had been democratically elected and opposition parties were represented in parliament. This was Ghana's first attempt at democracy, but it lasted only a few years before Nkrumah became president for life and banned all rival political parties. His overthrow in a military coup in February 1966 led to a gap of more than three years before the next democracy experiment began with Kofi Busia as prime minister in September 1969.

The coup d'etat that overthrew Nkrumah was planned by senior army generals and the police chief with the stated aim of returning the country to democracy. However, the colonels who overthrew the Kofi Busia government were opportunists who soon demonstrated their incompetence by sinking the country in years of extreme economic difficulty. Finally, in June 1979, a new coup d'etat by junior officers led to the restoration of democracy three months later under President Hilla Limann. However, the same junior officers, led by Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, canceled their own good work with a second hit on December 31, 1981. For more click here

This time, Rawlings held on to power, and a country weary of five coups in fifteen years accepted the situation quietly. It was not until the late 1980s that President Mitterrand called Rawlings to Paris and, under the authority of the Group of Seven Major Economic Powers, ordered the flight lieutenant to draft a democratic constitution. Once this was done, the Fourth Republic of Ghana and the fifth attempt at democracy began in December 1992, when its first general elections were held. Now, after six successful elections, most Ghanaians and all Ghanaian friends around the world must wait for a long succession of peaceful elections that extend into the future.

Author's Bio: 

This time, Rawlings held on to power, and a country weary of five coups in fifteen years accepted the situation quietly.