Rawlings and the Provisional National Defense Council:
Rawlings and his colleagues suspended the 1979 constitution, dismissed the President and cabinet, dissolved the Parliament, and proscribed existing political parties. They established the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), initially composed of seven members with Rawlings as chairman, to exercise executive and legislative powers. The existing judicial system was preserved, but alongside it the PNDC created the National Investigation Committee to root out corruption and other economic offenses; the anonymous Citizens' Vetting Committee to punish tax evasion; and the Public Tribunals to try various crimes.
The PNDC proclaimed its intent to allow the people to exercise political power through defense committees in communities and in units of the armed forces and police – Ghana would, however, remain a unitary government. In December 1982, it announced a plan to decentralize government from Accra to the regions, the districts, and local communities, but maintain overall control by appointing secretaries with executive powers and who would chair regional and district councils. Local councils were expected to take over the payment of salaries, with regions and districts assuming more powers from the national government.
Mapping a Road to Democracy:
In 1984, the PNDC created a National Appeals Tribunal to hear appeals from public tribunals; changed the Citizens' Vetting Committee into the Office of Revenue Collection; and replaced the system of defense committees with Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. They also created a National Commission on Democracy to study ways to establish participatory democracy in Ghana. The commission issued a "Blue Book" in July 1987 outlining modalities for district-level elections, which were held in 1988 and early 1989, for newly created district assemblies. The government appointed one-third of the assembly members.
International Pressure Mounts:
Under international and domestic pressure for a return to democracy, the PNDC allowed the establishment of a 258-member Consultative Assembly made up of members representing geographic districts as well as established civic or business organizations. The assembly was charged to draw up a draft constitution to establish a Fourth Republic, using PNDC proposals. The PNDC accepted the final product without revision, and it was put to a national referendum on April 28, 1992, in which it received 92% approval.
The Fourth Republic:
On May 18, 1992, the ban on party politics was lifted in preparation for multi-party elections. The PNDC and its supporters formed a new party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to contest the elections. Presidential elections were held on November 3 and parliamentary elections on December 29, 1992. Members of the opposition boycotted the parliamentary elections, however, which resulted in a 200-seat Parliament with only 17 opposition party members and two independents.
President Jerry Rawlings:
The constitution entered into force on January 7, 1993, to found the Fourth Republic. Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was inaugurated as President and members of Parliament swore their oaths of office. In 1996, the opposition fully contested the presidential and parliamentary elections, which were described as peaceful, free, and transparent by domestic and international observers. In that election, President Rawlings was re-elected with 57% of the popular vote. In addition, Rawlings' NDC party won 133 of the Parliament's 200 seats, just one seat short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.
President John Kufuor Takes Over:
The December 2000 elections ushered in the first democratic presidential change of power in Ghana's history when John A. Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) defeated the NDC's John Atta Mills – who was Rawling's Vice President and hand-picked successor. Kufuor defeated Mills by winning 56.73% of the vote. The elections were declared free and fair by domestic and international monitors. After several by-elections were held to fill vacated seats, the NPP majority stood at 103 of the 200 seats in Parliament, while the NDC held 89 and independent and small party members held eight.
The New Patriotic Party Retains Power:
In December 2004, eight political parties contested parliamentary elections and four parties, including the NPP and NDC, contested presidential elections. This election was reported to have a remarkable turnout of 85.12% according to the Election Commission. Despite a few incidents of intimidation and minor irregularities, domestic and international observers judged the elections generally free and fair. There were several isolated incidents of election-related violence, but the election was generally peaceful in most of Ghana.
John Agyekum Kufuor was re-elected president with 52.45% of the vote against three other presidential candidates, including former Vice-President John Atta Mills of the NDC. Thirty constituencies were created in the period between the 2000 and 2004 elections, resulting in a 230-member Parliament