Ghana’s Hung Parliament Sets President Up for Tough Term

Ghana’s main opposition party won the remaining seat to be counted in the nation’s legislative elections, matching the ruling party’s tally and creating a hung parliament.

The National Democratic Congress won Sene West in the east of the country, giving it 137 of the legislature’s 275 seats, according to electoral commission figures. The constituency result was delayed by a week because of a dispute involving the main parties, it said.

President Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party won re-election by defeating his longtime rival and predecessor, John Mahama of the NDC, in a Dec. 7 vote. His party’s mandate has been reduced from a 62.7% majority in parliament, with seats equally shared between the two main parties, and an NPP-leaning independent candidate holding the last seat.

A hung parliament will complicate Akufo-Addo’s efforts to act decisively to restore an economy hurt by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The global health crisis has driven Ghana’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product to 71% in September, the highest in four years. Before the crisis, Africa’s biggest gold producer was already under fiscal pressure due to the costs of cleaning up the banking sector and energy-sector liabilities.

“The NDC will have power that no opposition party has had under the fourth republic: an opposition that can veto what they want,” Kobi Annan, an analyst at the U.K.- and Ghana-based Songhai Advisory, said by phone from London.

Contentious issues that Akufo-Addo’s administration will likely bring to the new parliament after its inauguration on Jan. 7 include petroleum deals and revenue management, and a new gold-royalty fund, Annan said. “That is where they will will have to really bring people on board in a fully consultative process,” he said.

While Akufo-Addo’s government had sought to speed up a $500 million initial public offering of the gold-royalty fund, Mahama vowed to reverse a deal if he won back power. The president promised a second parliamentary review of the proposal after a Special Prosecutor challenged the valuation of the deal and how advisers were picked.

Akufo-Addo, who won 51.6% of valid presidential votes, compared with Mahama’s 47.4%, said in his Dec. 11 victory speech that Ghanaians had shown with their votes that the two parties, which have dominated politics in the country since 1992, would have to work together. The parliamentary results hadn’t yet been announced at the time.

The NDC is building up a case to challenge the outcome of both the presidential and parliamentary elections, where it said it got a working majority of 140 seats, instead of the 137 it’s been awarded.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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