Monday, December 29, 2008



December 30, 2008
Xinhua and Agencies

Opposition candidate John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has a narrow lead in Ghana’s presidential election run-off, leading private broadcaster Joy FM said yesterday. Citing certified returns from polling stations from 205 of the 230 national constituencies that voted on Sunday, Joy FM said Mills had 51.35 percent, against 48.65 percent for Nana Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

But the race was still close and some of the remaining constituencies to be tallied were NPP strongholds, election experts said. Ghana’s electoral regulations allow the media to announce certified results from constituencies as they are collated. But only the electoral commission can declare final results or the winner.

The commission was expected to release provisional results indicating a trend by midday. Following reported incidents of violence, intimidation and ballot-snatching on Sunday, both competing parties have threatened not to accept results from each other’s political strongholds in the country because of alleged "irregularities".Sunday’s run-off vote in the world’s No. 2 cocoa producer followed an inconclusive December 7 first round in which Akufo-Addo finished just ahead but failed to gain the more than 50 percent of votes needed to win.

Meanwhile, Ghana poll monitors are investigating claims of fraud as partial unofficial results indicate the count from the presidential vote is too close to call. Supporters of Nana Akufo-Addo, of the governing party, and the opposition’s John Atta Mills claim the other side committed vote fraud and intimidation. Mr Akufo-Addo narrowly beat his rival in the first round on 7 December but not by enough to avoid the run-off.

Local media project Mr Atta Mills has a slender lead with most votes counted. According to partial unofficial results, the opposition candidate has some 4.21m votes against 4.04m for Mr Akufo-Addo, from 211 out of a total 230 constituencies, reports privately-owned Joy FM radio.

The final official outcome is expected today. Both men hope to succeed President John Kufuor, who has served two terms. The stakes are high as Ghana has just found oil. The two main political parties - the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Mr Atta Mills - both complained about apparent efforts to rig the vote.