December 11, 2008

Ghana poll: Presidential candidates to face run-off

Ghana's opposition party candidate John Atta Mills, left, and Ruling party presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, Ghana, 09 Dec 2008
Ghana's electoral commission on Wednesday said the presidential election must be decided in a second-round vote. Governing party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo won 49.13% of the vote, against 47.92% for his rival, John Atta Mills, the commission said. But neither reached the 50% threshold needed for an outright win and a run-off will be held on 28 December.
Local and international observers have praised Ghana for setting a good example on how to conduct an election.

Electoral commission chairman Kwadwo Afari Gyan told a news conference in the capital, Accra: "There is going to be a re-run and it will be between the two leading candidates." The commission chairman did not immediately announce the results of the parallel parliamentary elections also held on Sunday, saying the commission needed to clarify some issues.

Turnout was 69.52% for Ghana's fifth set of elections since it embraced multi-party democracy in 1992. The BBC's Will Ross in Accra says after winning praise for its peaceful poll Ghana will now have to do it again, but the stakes are high, he adds, as the country has just discovered oil.

There were a number of candidates to succeed President John Kufuor - who steps down in January having served the maximum two terms - but the election has been a two-horse race. New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Mr Akufo-Addo won 4,159,439 votes, while National Democratic Congress (NDC) contender John Atta Mills had 4,056,634 ballots, it was announced.

Trailing a very distant third was businessman Papa Kwesi Nduom, of the Convention People's Party (CPP), with 1.3% of the ballot. The former British colony was the first African state to gain its independence in 1957. A nation of 22 million people, it is the world's second biggest cocoa grower and Africa's number two gold miner.

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