Assessing Democracy Assistance: Ghana

June 2, 2011, 8:39 p.m.

Assessing Democracy Assistance: Ghana by Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi is part of the series sponsored by the World Movement for Democracy.  Ghana has made significant strides towards a thriving democracy since the liberal democratic constitution of 1992 was created.  A large reason these positive changes have come about is due to the large amount of external assistance provided by external actors, such as USAID, DFID, etc.  The primary focus of this paper is on donor democracy assistance and the impact it has had on Ghana. 

This study focuses on donor democracy assistance to Ghana in three inter-related areas: election transparency, credibility and peacefulness; parliament strengthening; and governmental transparency, accountability and anti-corruption.

Even with the positive steps taken towards democracy there are still many areas in need of improvement.  Some of the areas which need improvement include the need for greater accountability and transparency, increased balance of powers within government, and an increase in decentralization. 
The constitution is fraught with design flaws: it grants vast appointment powers to the president, leading to extreme weaknesses in the system of checks and balances, including parliamentary oversight. An excessively powerful presidency has left the capture of the executive branch/ presidency the overwhelmingly dominant objective of multiparty competition, a situation intensified by the recent discovery of off-shore oil reserves in Ghana 

Levels of governmental accountability and transparency are highly inadequate. The salaries and other conditions of service for the president, ministers of state, and parliamentarians are largely shrouded in secrecy; public office-holder asset disclosure rules are weak, successive governments have stalled on the passage of a right to information legislation and political patronage and official corruption remain entrenched. Despite clear improvements after the disputed 1992 polls, election management and security remain feeble; the voters’ register is over-subscribed; polls are dogged by abuse of incumbency and tension, threats, intimidation and sporadic violence, sometimes with ethno-regional undertones, are increasingly commonplace.

The paper comes to the conclusion that while great progress has been made, there is a need for continued well-targeted international assistance and a need for democratic consolidation to take place.

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