Ghana: Cut in fuel prices linked to vote buying

Fuel prices slashed by 17 percent in Ghana just two weeks to the presidential election run-off. Political pundits and the opposition have raised eye brows saying it is a strategy to buy votes for the ruling candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The run-off comes on December 28.

Though it is a salvage to both middle and lower class people, the public have welcomed the news with mixed feelings. In public transport people could be heard arguing that the slash could have come way back before the general elections held on December 7 2008.

They (government) think we are children. We still need a change. Even if they like they should make fuel free we would still change them,” Selina Antwi, a trader at the Central Market in the capital Accra stated.

The cut, announced on state television late on Thursday just a day after the run-off vote was announced, was by far the biggest in a series of fuel price reductions as world oil prices have fallen by two-thirds from record highs five months ago, Reuters news agency reported.

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) normally surveys prices over the first 15 days of the month and announces any modification on the 16th or 17th. “But here we are just on the 11th day of December, an announcement was made after an election in which the government did not do well, to assuage the people, knowing very well that voters are preparing for December 28,” said Kwabena Donkor, a spokesman for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

“The move is very political because for the first time in several years, the time-frame of the announcement has been truncated,” Donkor said.

In the first round of the presidential elections, the NDC’s candidate, John Atta Mills, came a close second in last Sunday’s presidential election with 47.92 percent of the vote, according to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission. Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP had 49.13 percent. He failed to obtain the constitutionally required 50% +1 vote to be declared a president.

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December 2008

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