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Elections for the Legislative Assembly were held for the first time in the Gold Coast on 8 February 1951. Although elections had been held for the Legislative Council since 1925,[1] the Council did not have complete control over the legislation, and the voting franchise was limited to councils of chiefs.[2] This was the first election to be held in Africa under universal suffrage.[3]

Contents

Background

Amongst growing calls for self-governance and unrest (which led to the arrest of the Big Six), the Coussey Committee was commissioned by the United Kingdom government. Its report led to the 1951 constitution, which gave the Executive Council an African majority, and created an 84-member Legislative Assembly, 38 of which were to be elected by the people and 46 by traditional councils.

Results

Kwame Nkrumah's Convention People's Party won 34 of the 38 elected seats in the assembly,[4] claiming all five seats and nearly 95% of the vote in urban areas;[5] Nkrumah himself winning the Accra Central seat with 22,780 of the 23,122 votes cast. In rural areas the CPP won 29 of the 33 seats, taking around 72% of the vote.[6] The main opposition, the United Gold Coast Convention, fared badly, winning only two seats,[7] and was disbanded following the elections.[8] Former members of the UGCC went on to form the Ghana Congress Party (which later became the United Party).[9] The elections were also contested by the National Democratic Party.[10]

The CPP was also supported in the Assembly by 22 of the indirectly elected members, and thus held 56 of the 84 seats.[6]

Aftermath

After winning the Accra Central seat, Nkrumah was released from prison, and was appointed "Leader of Government Business",[11] before becoming the country's first Prime Minister the following year after a constitutional amendment.

Another new constitution was promulgated in 1954, followed by elections the same year, also won by the CPP. Following another convincing election victory by Nkrumah's party in 1956, Gold Coast became the first sub-Saharan African state to gain independence (aside from apartheid South Africa) on 6 March 1957, changing its name to Ghana.

References

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