Ghanaian Opposition Leader Has Slim Lead in Presidential Vote

The opposition candidate in Ghana's presidential election has a narrow lead over the ruling party candidate with more than 85 percent of districts reporting.  But final results are not expected until Tuesday.

With official returns in from more than 200 of Ghana's 230 districts, opposition candidate John Atta-Mills has a slight lead over ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo.

But the ruling party is disputing some of the vote tallies announced so far.  Both parties said their supporters were intimidated at polling stations.

Akufo-Addo defeated Atta-Mills in a first round of balloting earlier this month.  But because neither candidate won more than 50 percent of the votes cast, they went head-to-head on Sunday to determine who will succeed out-going President John Kufuor.

Ghanian electoral officials expect to announce final results on Tuesday.

New Patriotic Party candidate Akufo-Addo is a 64-year-old former attorney general and foreign minister who campaigned on the strength of improvements in Ghana's economy, health care and infrastructure during the Kufuor administration.

Atta-Mills of the National Democratic Congress party is a 64-year-old tax law professor who campaigned against the ruling party saying it is time for a change after what he called eight years of "miserable failure".

Atta-Mills was vice president to Ghana's former leader Jerry Rawlings who came to power in a coup 27 years ago.  Mr. Rawlings introduced some economic and political reforms before handing over power to John Kufuor eight years ago.

Whoever wins the election will govern with a decidedly different parliament, as the ruling party lost its legislative majority in the first round, dropping 21 seats to finish with 107 of the 228 seats in parliament.  The opposition NDC picked up 20 seats to finish with 114 seats.

Ghana's next presidential administration will likely enjoy a considerable new source of revenue following the discovery of off-shore oil fields that could produce as much as 150,000 barrels a day by 2010.  That could ease the impact of higher food and fuel prices in an economy that is already Africa's second largest producer of gold and the world's second biggest exporter of cocoa. 

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