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Early Returns Show Tight Race in Ghana Presidential Vote

In Ghana, election officials are counting the votes from Sunday's elections and unofficial returns show that with more than one-third of the constituencies tabulated, two leading candidates are in a tight race for the presidency.

Voters in Ghana were closely following vote tabulation in the country's 230 constituencies Monday as election officials predicted official results would take a few days to be completed.

Officials report high voter turnout

Voter turnout was high Sunday as Ghanaians chose a new president and parliament.

An official with a team of international observers from the Carter Center, David Carroll, said the polling was largely calm.

"This has been quite an orderly and peaceful process and, importantly, a high turnout. But most importantly it is a very competitive process and a very tight race," he said.

Observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth and the West African Economic Community, ECOWAS, echoed this assessment.

President John Kufuor is retiring after eight years in office. The candidate of his New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo, was running neck-and-neck with opposition candidate John Atta-Mills of the National Democratic Congress of former President Jerry Rawlings.

Analysts say election shows citizens maturing in political game

The public affairs head of Ghana's Electoral Commission, Christian Owusu-Pare, noted there had been some campaign incidents, but indicated these had not prevented a free and fair vote.

"Although there have been pockets of violence here and there in the past, we have not experienced the kind of violence that we have witnessed in other African countries. But there seems to be an improvement in the situation now and it is an indication that Ghanaians are gradually maturing in this political game," Owusu-Pare said.

He acknowledged there had been complaints from opposition parties about an unexpectedly high number of newly registered voters. But he said the Commission had removed many names that had been registered more than once.

Carter center notes some irregularities

Carroll said Carter Center observers had seen only a few isolated irregularities during the polling and expressed hope that the results would be accepted by all.

"Ghana is showing again that there is an unusually high level of political maturity in this country and I think we can count on Ghanaians and the major parties to have the patience to let the process run its course," said Carroll.

Official results are expected in a few days. If no presidential candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote a runoff election is to be held in three weeks.