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Transition envy in Ghana

After watching Barack Obama take office, some Ghanaians say the next step for their young democracy should be adopting an American-length presidential transition. Obama beat John McCain on Nov. 4, giving him ample time to put his administration in place. Meanwhile, new Ghanaian President John Atta Mills was sworn in Jan. 7, less than a week after being declared the winner of a run-off election over ruling party candidate Nana Akufo Addo. The new president said he needed a few weeks to get his cabinet in place and asked some top officials from John Kufuor's administration to stay on the job for a month.

Sounds reasonable, but not to former president Jerry Rawlings, who publicly criticized Atta Mills, his former vice president, for not immediately sacking Kufuor's people, as he says he would have done. Count Accra advertising executive George Brown among those who say Ghana's election should be in November. Ghanaians voted Dec. 7 but no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, so Atta Mills and Akufo Addo went to a Dec. 28 runoff, which was extended again to a Jan. 2 revote in one district, after ballot problems arose. Brown, 60, told me the process "has to be longer." Brown voted for Akufo Addo but that doesn't mean he wants Rawlings hammering the new president. He said Rawlings, who twice led successful military coups, is "not a good statesman."