Ghana’s constitution was approved by referendum in 1992. Ghana is a unitary republic with an executive presidency and a multiparty political system. The national legislature is the unicameral parliament; its 230 members are elected by universal adult suffrage every four years.
The president is head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He or she is elected by universal suffrage every four years for a maximum of two terms. A candidate must receive at least fifty per cent of the votes or submit to a new election within 21 days.
The president appoints a vice-president and council of ministers subject to approval by parliament. There are two presidential advisory bodies: a 25-member Council of State and a 20-member National Security Council chaired by the vice-president.
There are 10 regional ministers each assisted by a co-ordinating council.
The justice system is broadly based on English common law, and the law relating to personal relationships and contracts is rooted in Ghanaian customary law. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal and has jurisdiction over constitutional issues. The Court of Appeal deals with appeals relating to the High Court, which has jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases except where they concern treason.
Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, setting a trend which was rapidly reflected in a wave of decolonisation throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
The black star on the Ghana flag is said to be the lodestar of African liberty.
In 1949 Kwame Nkrumah established the Convention People’s Party (CPP) to campaign for independence. In 1952, following elections, he became Ghana’s first prime minister. In 1960 Ghana became a republic with Nkrumah as president. He was overthrown by a military coup in 1966. The army and police set up a National Liberation Council, and soon returned the country to civilian rule. After the 1969 general election Dr Kofi Busia of the Progress Party became prime minister, though his government was overthrown by military coup in 1972.
In 2000 Jerry Rawlings of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was prevented by the constitution from seeking another term in office as president. Instead, after two rounds of presidential elections, John Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) became president, thus defeating John Atta Mills of the NDC.
The parliamentary and presidential elections in December 2008 were very close. The NDC won the general elections but fell just short of an overall majority. In the second round of the presidential election, NDC’s Atta Mills narrowly defeated NPP’s Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo.