Since its independence on March 6, 1957, Ghana has consistently held successful elections, a testament to its commitment to democracy and peace. The country's resilience against terrorism and violent extremist groups and its commendable religious tolerance have set it apart. Ghana’s democracy, often lauded as one of the best in Africa and the Western world, has earned the country the reputation of a peace beacon in national and international spheres. This is further underscored by Ghana's active role in peacekeeping efforts, both on the continent and globally, which is a source of pride and hope for all.

Ghana’s elections have generated much international and national interest, mainly after gaining the accolade of being the gateway to Africa. Elections have become a significant event in the Ghanaian democratic calendar and directly relate to the essence of geopolitics in West Africa. With elections and new government policies and agenda comes new iterations of geopolitical positioning, whether in the purview of the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, or Germany and the EU.

Thus, elections today in Ghana are not just the exclusive concern of Ghanaians but also the ECOWAS region. In essence, the pacesetter role of Ghana has been upheld since the toppling of colonization in the 1950s. In this regard, the 4th Republican constitution of the Republic of seen elections from 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020, with an impending one in December 2024. The international implications of these elections cannot be overstated, as they will shape Ghana's future and significantly impact global geopolitics.

Given the global interest in Ghana's elections, the international community and the African continent will closely monitor the proceedings. However, several pressing concerns need to be addressed. These include the activities of vigilante groups, which pose a threat to the democratic process; the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in critical regions, which could escalate into violence; the frustration of the large population of unemployed youth who constitute a significant portion of voters, which could lead to social unrest; and the recurring issue of potential electoral violence in the country's presidential and parliamentary elections, which could undermine the credibility of the democratic process. These challenges highlight the need for immediate action to safeguard Ghana's democracy and ensure a peaceful and fair election in 2024.

For example, several human lives were lost during the elections in 2020, when results were collated. During the 2020 elections, it was also reported that about 15 different electorates sustained various degrees of injuries from sporadic shootings on election day in areas such as Techiman, Odorkor, Ablekuma, and Tamale. This phenomenon is becoming worrying and could derail the peace and security of the country. These incidents have garnered global attention, leading to interest and expectations about the role of stakeholders in safeguarding peace and security in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary general elections due on December 7, 2024.

Further, the rapid advancement of digital technology and the widespread usage of social media platforms all over the country present an opportunity and, at the same time, threats to peace and security. Some of these threats include mis/disinformation, hate speech, sensational media reporting, mistrust in electoral processes and stakeholders, activities of political party vigilante groups, and false declaration of results by political party heads, among others. These threats impact the country's electoral integrity, peace, and security.

Why do we need to be concerned about election-related conflicts?

The imminent election in December 2024 is unique. The flagbearers, John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Vice President Momodu Bawumia of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the major parties represent different religions-Christian and Moslem; both are from the Northern regions of Ghana, a place bothering the Sahel region which is vulnerable to the overflow of terrorist acts. Further, the northern region has a prevalence of unresolved tribal conflicts resulting from festering political tensions, which could be expressed in the current elections.

In addition, the governance and economic challenges facing the current government, which Vice President Bawumia represents, have worsened with adverse public opinions of severe corruption that can be trialed in courts for possible criminal offenses, much to the extent that there is an imminent threat of jailings.

All these have resulted in a situation where the tensions for a make-or-a-break elections have now become the optimum objective of the flagbearers and the teaming supporters of the NDC and the NPP. The December 2024 elections will likely become the tensest in Ghana’s democratic dispensations. Therefore, one would agree that the upcoming general election in Ghana is a cause for concern, looking at the dynamics of the political activities, including statements made on campaign platforms that tend to cause widespread violence.

Pre-empting and avoiding electoral violence.

Given the looming tension, the election-related conflict is inevitable in December 2024, hence the need for amicable solutions to address it when it occurs. The challenge is for most civil society organizations, private entities, households, other corporate entities, the church, and relevant institutions to identify the cause of the election-related conflict and analyse it for a suitable solution. Election-related conflicts, when not dealt with, can spiral into violent clashes and be a conduit for armed groups to radicalize the youth, leading to terrorism and violent extremism. We hear of the Youth bulge, identified as a security threat.

If not resolved, election-related conflicts are also a security threat in themselves. Most of the election-related conflicts identified in some regions in Ghana have often been driven by issues such as manipulation of election figures, vigilantism, the silence of opinion leaders and religious elitists, especially leaders of mega-churches with big following, refusal of the party who lost the elections to accept the results, abuse of political power against other groups to name a few.

To prevent any predictable violence, Ghana must invoke its peace architecture. This must actively involve the engagement of churches, opinion leaders, traditional authorities, civil society groups, youth groups, religious leaders, citizens, and all voters. The entire country must be mobilized against any electoral violence.

The Supreme Court and Peaceful Electoral Petition

Critical to addressing electoral violence is the openness and willingness of the incumbent government to commit to endorsing the unmistakable will of the people after the elections. This includes faithfulness towards upholding the independence of the institutions of democracy. In 2016, the country experienced a historic event when the NPP petitioned the Supreme Court of the land regarding the elections. The verdict of that petition was in favor of the NDC. In 2020, the NDC went to the Supreme Court and petitioned to have the 2020 election results canceled, citing irregularities, but the court ruled in favor of the NPP. The question now is: will the NPP and NDC be willing to go to court this time? This situation was experienced in Nigeria during the 2024 general elections, where the court of the land ruled in favor of the government in power.

Many have argued that today’s Supreme Court is fully packed with 15 justices, most leaning toward the NPP, to the extent that the architecture of the levers of government is tilted towards the incumbent. This means there is gross mistrust of the justice of the government to the extent that citizens overwhelming hold the opinion that their will after elections could be manipulated by an incumbent who has the authority and means to manipulate the judges sitting on the petition in favor of the NPP when it comes to electoral contestations. When operationalized in the aftermath of the elections and when petitions are mounted, this perception of citizens can lead to violence depending on the outcome of the court ruling. This notional view becomes an existential threat to Ghana’s exemplary democracy today.

Towards a Progressive Government, the Will of the People

The common sense will of the people in any electoral dispensation is to get rid of a failing government through universal suffrage. Indeed, it's stupid to re-elect a miserable incumbent. Citizens go to the ballot boxes to elect a competent leader during national elections. Thus, any attempt to overturn the people's will is a recipe for conflict and disaster. In today’s election in Ghana, there is an overwhelming feeling that citizens might vote in a certain way, including a possible predictable outcome. Any attempt to generate a different result that might align with the expectations of citizens might lead to consequences of upheavals.


The machinery of democracy must meet the expectations of citizens. And much more, the government of the day must ensure that this will is protected and handed down to another realm in the line of succession. Further, it is essential to sensitize and educate the populace, especially the youth, on channeling their grievances through the appropriate channels to avoid violent clashes. State institutions, such as the National Peace Council, should deal efficiently with conflicts when they arise to prevent protraction. State institutions and security agencies should share information regarding suspicious activities that tend to cause or give way to persons with the motive of disrupting the electoral process. In the end, we al have a role to play in ensuring the peace and democracy of the country. Long live Ghana and Long live African democracy.

About the authors

Dr. Victor Kofi Afetorlom Doke is a Research Fellow with the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research (FAAR) at the KAIPTC. He holds a PhD in International Studies focusing on Conflict Resolution from Hiroshima City University (Japanese MEXT Scholar). His research interests include violent armed conflicts, elections, conflict resolution [management, prevention], and security, civil society organizations' role in conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation.

Dr. Ishmael Nii Dodoo: Over 25 years of experience in African human development practices. Strong background in the United Nations System, including serving as a senior official in the Executive of the UN Secretary-General and coordinating the implementation of the UN Sahel strategy. He is the Executive vice president and co-founder of CO2 Africa Ltd. He holds a First Class Honors bachelor's degree in Natural Resources Management from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana). He is also an African Lloyd Scholar with a graduate degree in Environmental Change and Management from Oxford University, UK, and a Doctorate fellow in Strategic Leadership from Oral Roberts University, USA.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.