GHANA: Presidential candidates go to a run-off
Slightly under 70 percent of eligible voters in Ghana turned out for parliamentary and presidential elections on 7 December
ACCRA, 10 December 2008 (IRIN) - Ghanaians will go to the polls again on 28 December to elect a president after the two main candidates fell short of the 50-percent threshold for a first-round victory.
In the 7 December poll Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party secured 49.13% of valid votes cast, while 47.92 percent of voters chose main opposition party candidate, John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). The remaining votes were split among the six other candidates
Slightly under 70 percent of eligible voters turned out.
“Ghana’s democracy is the winner in these elections, and the results are a sign of this democracy’s maturity,” Kojo Asante, an election observer from the Coalition of Domestic Observers, told IRIN.
Emmanuel Akwetey, head of the think tank Institute for Democratic Governance, said the close outcome showed that the Ghanaian electorate cannot be taken for granted. “This is an issues-based election and the people are watching closely. As we move to the second round voters are going to become even more discerning."
On the streets of the capital, Accra, the results were greeted with caution after an initial burst of jubilation by supporters of the two main candidates.
In parliamentary elections the opposition party NDC took a slim majority, overturning the ruling party’s lead in parliament.
|...Ghana's democracy is the winner in these elections...
The declared results are based on votes collated from 229 out of 230 constituencies across the country.
Local and international observers hailed Ghana's elections as free and fair.
Former Nigerian President General Yakubu Gowon, who led the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) observer mission, told journalists polls were “free, credible and peaceful”, and that the national electoral commission had lived up to expectations.
But the main opposition NDC is disputing both parliamentary and presidential results from two constituencies.
“Serious fraud and illegalities occurred and we will be contesting those results [in court],” a leading NDC member, Tony Aidoo, told IRIN.
Political pundits have already started debating how close the presidential run-off is likely to be.
Election observer Asante said he is certain that the calm seen in the first round will be repeated in the second, no matter how close the results.
But teacher Steven Ankrah is nervous. “The fact that we have to go through all this suspense again is a bit worrying; it is the anxiety that gets to me.”
John Sarpong, a trader, told IRIN he is happy with a second round of voting. “Whoever wins eventually will get the message clearly that we can bring their power down with our thumb, I can’t wait for the second round.”