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article imageNana Akufo-Addo: Ghana's veteran runner-up strikes gold

By Stephanie FINDLAY (AFP)     Dec 10, 2016 in World

It was a case of third time lucky for Ghana's Nana Akufo-Addo, who struck a chord with voters fed up with corruption and a flagging economy to win the presidential election.

The 72-year-old rights lawyer and former foreign minister, narrowly lost the 2008 and 2012 elections to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

But after garnering 53.8 percent of the vote this time, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) leader pledged to stand by his ambitious electoral promises which include free high school education and a factory in each of Ghana's districts.

"I will not let you down. I will do all in my power to live up to your hopes and expectations," Akufo-Addo told an ecstatic crowd at his house in the capital Accra late Friday.

"I will do my best to serve your interests and put our country back on the path of progress and prosperity."

Akufo-Addo, who speaks with a British accent and sports tortoiseshell glasses, had banked on the backing of those frustrated with a slew of corruption scandals, unreliable electricity and sluggish economic growth.

He had campaigned on a platform promising to boost growth and deliver jobs.

While incumbent John Mahama has been slow to address what many perceive as worsening corruption, Akufo-Addo had promised to act quickly to stop a "borrowing binge" that has "mortgaged our future".

He campaigned hard across the country, brandishing his party's red, white and blue flag emblazoned with an elephant as a symbol for radical change.

- Jobs for the youth -

An economic liberal, Akufo-Addo focussed on creating more jobs -- especially among youth who face growing levels of unemployment -- and on modernising the commodity-dependent economy.

His "one district, one factory" programme would encourage private sector investment, as would a policy of slashing corporate taxes.

Akufo-Addo was born in Kyebi, in the eastern region of Ghana into the political elite.

He is related to three of the "Big Six", politicians dubbed as Ghana's founding fathers, including his father who served as president.

Akufo-Addo studied in England and has enjoyed a successful career. He worked in England and France before returning to Ghana.

When multi-party democracy was restored to the west African country in 1992 after decades of military rule, Akufo-Addo became involved with the NPP, later serving as both justice minister then foreign minister under President John Kufuor between 2001 and 2008.

In the last election, he lost 47.7 to Mahama's 50.7 percent.

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