Guest post by Andrew Novak.
Following the upset wins by the All People’s Congress (APC) in Sierra Leone in 2007 and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Ghana in 2008, both countries experienced tense but peaceful transitions of power from the ruling party to the opposition, two successes in sharp contrast to the contemporaneous electoral violence in Kenya and Zimbabwe. In the midst of a worldwide economic recession, voters in both West African countries will return to the polls — in Sierra Leone on November 17 and Ghana on December 7 — to determine whether the new ruling parties deserve a second term. With emboldened challengers, both contests are likely to again be close.
In the 2007 Sierra Leonean general election, the APC’s Ernest Bai Koroma (pictured above) narrowly defeated Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), then vice-president of Sierra Leone under the term-limited president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. With overwhelming support from the north of the country and a strong showing in Freetown, the capital, Koroma was elected in a runoff as the first president from the Temne ethnic group, one of the two main ethnic groups in the country. This year, he will face another strong challenge from Julius Maada Bio, a former military ruler of the country. As head of state, Bio organized the elections that resulted in the peaceful transfer of power to Kabbah in March 1996, before the country’s descent into civil war. Continue reading New ruling parties face strong challenges in Ghana and Sierra Leone