SOME good news does occasionally come out of Africa and the final outcome of Ghana's presidential election must be put in that category. On Wednesday John Atta Mills was sworn-in as Ghana's new president in front of a huge crowd in Accra's Independence Square. Mills won a run-off for the presidency by the narrowest imaginable margin of 0.5 per cent of the vote and it was not surprising that many observers expected that his opponent and supporters might make trouble either legally or in the kind of direct action that has marred too many election results in Africa. Fortunately this has not happened. Ghana was the first black British colony to win independence in 1957 and although its early years were troubled it has shown considerable political maturity over the past two decades.
All things being equal the people of Ghana have much to look forward to. The country is the world's second largest cocoa producer and the second largest gold miner in Africa; oil has been found off Ghana's coast and production is forecast to begin late in 2010. Politically, the omens are good: Mr Mills' presidency is the second to take place by democratic process and the Speaker of Parliament will for the first time be a woman. One of the last acts of the outgoing president, John Kufuor, was to pardon several jailed opposition figures.