Ghana’s Presidential Candidate Picks Energy Minister As Running Mate

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Ahead of December’s presidential election, Ghana’s Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and the presidential candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) have picked the current energy minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh as his running mate.

President Nana Akufo-Addo will step down in January 2025 after serving the constitutionally mandated eight years. Ruling parties are often considered favourites to win presidential races in Ghana, but none has ever won more than two consecutive terms.

Bawumia’s choice of Matthew Opoku Prempeh, a lawmaker, doctor and Christian from Ghana’s populous Asante region, continues a tradition in which the two main political parties often choose running mates from different religious and ethnic backgrounds in a bid to foster unity and appeal to more voters.

Bawumia, a 61-year-old economist and former central banker was elected NPP candidate for the presidential election in November last year, teeing up a contest with former President John Dramani Mahama, who is seeking a comeback.

Mahama and Bawumia are both from Muslim-dominated northern Ghana, which is less economically developed than the southern regions of the West African country.

Prempeh, 56, served as education minister between 2017 and 2020, presiding over President Akufo-Addo’s free senior high school policy, which critics said was poorly implemented.

The tough-talking politician, who has been a lawmaker since 2008 and is also a royal from Ghana’s Asante tribe, was tapped to run the energy ministry in January 2021.

He has since been swept up in a resurgent energy crisis that he and his party had criticised Mahama’s National Democratic Congress party for failing to fix when it was in power.

Bawumia is the first Muslim to lead a major party in Ghana since 1992 and also the first person outside the dominant Akan-speaking ethnic group to lead the NPP.

In picking Prempeh, he is seeking to re-energise the NPP in the Asante region, where allegations of limited opportunities for party faithful have fuelled discontent.

For his third attempt for the top job, Mahama has retained former education minister and literature professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang from central Ghana as his running mate.