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Offering Something Radically Different to Ghana’s Political Mainstream

A wealthy Ghanaian businessman revealed himself as the masked presidential candidate featured on billboards in major cities in recent weeks. But his launch was most notable for highlighting the government’s apparent fear of a new youth-led populist movement similar to others sweeping the continent. Nana Kwame Bediako, a property developer popularly referred to as Cheddar, had planned to unveil his identity at a convention featuring high profile populist figures who have garnered support from young voters, including Peter Obi — who came third in last year’s Nigerian presidential election — and the leader of South Africa’s far-left Economic Freedom Fighters party Julius Malema who was due to speak via video call. The cancellation of the New Africa Convention came as a surprise to many, but Ghana’s government is clearly unwilling to accommodate events that could make it look bad in an election year. The move to use security forces to enforce the cancellation suggests a deeper fear that the populism gripping some young people elsewhere in the continent could spread to Ghana.