Wednesday, January 7 saw the installation of opposition leader John Atta Mills as president in Ghana, the second such change in the country since the return to multi-party elections in 1990.

It was a victory for the National Democratic Congress(NDC), for the entire country of Ghana, and for the opposition which snatched a narrow victory from the ruling National Patriotic Party(NPP).

It may have been a hard-fought and hard-won election but the idea that change can come to Ghana so easily, this time and without bloodshed, after years in which military force was the only answer, is causing analysts to look at the entire African continent somewhat differently.

Is this a sign of the times? This may be true, as Reuters is reporting that the military juntas that took control of Guinea, Dec 08, and Mauritania, August 08, are now promising elections in 2009, earlier than they had planned. In Mauritania, elections will be held in May, according to Reuters and in Guinea, elections will take place within twelve months.

Is this the result of pressure from the international community or is this the result of what these leaders see as simply the right thing to do? If not, why was the force used in the first place and why have they suddenly made a change of their hearts?


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