Ghana Government and Politics

State and politics

Ghana Country Flag

Ghana has since the country’s first president Kwame Nkrumah overthrown at a military coup in 1966 had varied military and civilian rule.  In recent decades, the country has evolved into one of the most stable democracies on the continent.


The constitution of the current “Fourth Republic” was adopted by referendum in April 1992 and states that Ghana should be a multi-party state. The executive is held by a president, who is also commander-in-chief. The president is elected by universal suffrage for a period of four years and may be re-elected once. All presidents since independence have been men.

The legislative power is exercised by a single-chamber parliament. The 275 members are elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term. After the 2016 election, 35 of the members (13 percent) were women.

A Council of Ministers (Government) is appointed by the President and must be approved by Parliament. The Constitution also provides for a so-called 25-member cabinet which is appointed by the president and has advisory functions. The National Security Council has the same task with 20 members, who are led by the Vice President.


John Kufuor took office as president in 2001 after winning the presidential election in late 2000 with 57 percent of the vote. This was the first time power was passed from one elected president – Jerry Rawlings – to another. Kufuor represented the New Patriotic Party (NPP), formed in 1992 when the eleven-year ban on party politics was lifted. He was re-elected in 2004 with 52 percent of the vote. In 2001, the NPP also gained a majority in parliament, which was strengthened following a convincing election victory in 2004. Kufuor’s and NPP’s electoral victories in 2000 broke the former majority party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), a power position with roots in the military junta called the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). which was formed after Jerry Rawling’s second coup in 1981.

However, in the elections at the end of 2008, the NPP lost its grip on both Parliament and the presidential post. The latter was taken over by NDC candidate John Atta Mills, who took a very tight win in the second round after being second behind NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo in the first. The parliamentary elections were even; The NDC received 114 seats against the NPP’s 107. In July 2012 Atta Mills hastily departed and Vice President John Dramani Mahama sworn in as President in his stead. Later that year, Mahama received 51 percent of the vote in the presidential election, with Akufo-Addo again ranking second. The NDC retained its grip on Parliament with 148 seats while the NPP received 123 seats.

Mahama lost the 2016 presidential election against former Justice and Foreign Minister Akufo-Addo, who got 54 percent of the vote against 44 percent for Mahama. There was also a change of power in the parliament when the NPP captured 169 of 275 seats.

Ghana’s relations with neighboring countries Togo, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso have at times been tense, partly because opposition groups were allowed to act from their territory. But the country has also been a frequent participant in peacekeeping operations in the region and within the UN system. Not least, the Ghanaian government has in turn held a central position as mediator in Liberia.


As early as 1876, the British, through the so-called Supreme Court Ordinance, introduced it in England at the time of the law, both the written constitutional rules and the unwritten common law. However, important areas of jurisdiction remained for the native subject to domestic customary law. Independence did not in itself break the legal continuity, but led to extensive own legislation in various areas. The death penalty remains in the penal code but is de facto abolished in 1993.

Heads of State


1960-66 Kwame Nkrumah
1966-69 Joseph A. Ankrah
1969-70 Akwasi A. Afrifa
1970-72 Edward Akufo-Addo
1972-78 Ignatius K. Acheampong
1978-79 Frederick WK Akuffo
1979 Jerry Rawlings
1979-81 Hilla Limann
1981-2001 Jerry Rawlings
2001-09 John Kufuor
2009-12 John Atta Mills
2012-17 John Dramani Mahama
2017- Nana Akufo-Addo

Ghana Head of Government

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