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Ghanaians Vote in Large Numbers for New President, Parliament


Voters in Ghana have been going to the polls Sunday to elect a new president and 230 members of parliament. Current President John Kuffuor is stepping down after eight years in office and a new leader will be taking over.

Voters in Ghana turned out early and in large numbers. VOA's Peter Clottey reported from Accra that some voters arrived as early as three o'clock in the morning, four hours before the polls opened.

"Turnout has been particularly impressive. Where I am standing now, the line is approximately over a mile long and this is the smallest I have seen this morning," he said.

The candidate of outgoing President John Kuffuor's New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo, was in a tight race with opposition candidate John Atta-Mills of the National Democratic Congress founded by former President Jerry Rawlings.

Six other candidates were also running for the country's top political office.

Fashion designer Rick Joe Amuzu was one of the early voters. He praised the record of the governing N.P.P. party, but added that after eight years in power it was time for new leadership.

"Actually, the N.P.P., they did well. They moved the country. From 2000 to 2008 we are moving forward but we need a change," said Amuzu.

Homemaker Lucky Kunpe says she voted for change because the cost of living is too high.

"Our petrol, our food, is too high. And our condition of living here is very strong [difficult]," said Kunpe.

But tailor Kwesi Burger praised the current government and said he voted for continuity.

"The way things are going, I do not think we need change now. Things are moving in the right direction so we do not have to change things now," said Burger. "We have to move forward a little."

But he said the new government must make it easier for people like him to obtain bank loans to expand their businesses.

Artisan Warren Kwame-Nyame said he voted for the ruling party. But he wants the next government to improve education and health care in the country.

"They need to concentrate more on educating people. We are so far behind. Health [care] is very expensive," said Kwame-Nyame. "They started a national health insurance scheme but looking at how it is going, it is not the best."

Ghana's electoral commission promised a free and fair vote and hundreds of national and international observers deployed around the country to monitor the polling.

Results are expected within a few days.

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