Voters in Ghana turned out Sunday to choose a successor to President John Kufuor, who has led the country since 2000. The field of eight candidates vying for the country’s top office includes two leading figures, Nana Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), and John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), founded by Kufuor’s predecessor, former President Jerry John Rawlings. Results are not expected to be announced until the middle of the week, but Akufo-Addo and Atta Mills are expected to finish in a very tight race that may necessitate a runoff. Reporter Peter Clottey in the capital Accra says that with few exceptions, polling ran very smoothly.
“Sunday’s election was almost impeccable in terms of how well organized the electoral commission was in administering the polls in Ghana’s election. I visited over ten polling stations, and it was orderly. People were patient enough to go and exercise their franchise. You had a few riff-raff trying to jump the queue, but they were readily put back to where they were supposed to be by the security agency,” he said.
After a sporadic series of alternating civilian and military governments, including two coups staged by Rawlings in 1979 and 1981, Ghana has experienced an orderly democratic transition since the 1992 election of Flight Lieutenant-turned President Jerry Rawlings and Rawlings’ orderly handover of power to his rival Kufuor, who was elected eight years later.
Reporter Clottey says that the six smaller Ghanaian political parties may have a crucial role to play in deciding this year’s winner should any winning candidate fail to get a decisive majority.
“Unless one major party makes significant gains in the main stronghold of the other party, then it’s presumed that it will be very tight, and from some of the reports or early polling that we had, it clearly showed that it could be tight. Unless something very drastic happens, I don’t think that one particular party might come out tops,” he noted.