Ghanaians are awaiting the final results of Sunday's presidential run-off election between the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). Although the electoral commission is expected to officially declare the winner by tomorrow (Tuesday), some Ghanaians believe the final results would be known by the end of today (Monday). Sunday's run-off election became necessary because no party won the over 50 percent minimum votes required to win the December seventh general election. Local and international observers described Sunday's run-off election as peaceful, free, fair and transparent. Ben Ephson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Dispatch newspaper. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Ghanaians have always risen to the challenge in entrenching democracy in the country.
"Ghanaians are expecting the electoral commission to officially declare the election results tomorrow Tuesday. What is happening is that many media outlets, radio stations television stations the way they tend to broadcast results, by let's say 8.20 GMT hours this evening (Monday), many people would have an idea who is Ghana's next president because it is just easy to see what somebody got in December 7th and what you got in yesterday's (Sunday) run- off and the net gain or loss," Ephson noted.
He said since 1992 when the country first returned to constitutional rule Ghanaians have shown maturity in holding elections.
"I wasn't surprised (at the peaceful nature of the election). What Kenya got into, we got there 16 years ago in 1992, and Ghanaians did not resort to anything. It was a bit more peaceful than I expected. You know, the first one was so close and the difference in votes was about 102 thousand. And I think whoever wins this one the gap is still going to be still narrow so I'm surprised because I expected a bit more tension and it has gone on quite well," he said.
Ephson said both the NPP and the NDC have been trying to outmaneuver each other with their pronouncements.
"This election was like a penalty shootout. There would have to be a winner. And what they were all doing was like two boxers speaking at a press conference after the weigh in and everybody is trying to flex muscles and trying to shadow box each other. But the press has some kind of a bit wise so all allegations were not broadcast, they usually cross check them before putting them on air. The danger is that if you are interviewing somebody live, especially live on radio or television, they blurt out the allegation before you can stop them. But generally, I think that yesterday's run-off went very well," Ephson pointed out.
He said the conduct of Sunday's run-off election was as transparent and would meet both local and international standards.
"I'm sure it would be the same (free and fair). I mean even in the U.S, you have a little hitches here and there and I think in the main it is the same standards that Ghanaians have once again exhibited, fair free and transparent," he said.
Ephson said Ghanaians have been demonstrating that democracy can be peacefully practiced and entrenched across the African continent.
"I think we have clearly exhibited that Ghanaians can do it. I mean in 2000 handover was a higher benchmark of the Ghanaians ability to play by the rules. I mean here was somebody who has been in charge of eight years constitutional rule and 11 years military and for 19 years the government has been in power and they lose the run-off. I bet if it had been any other country the then government would have tried various tricks, but he (Former President Jerry John Rawlings) handed over. But I think whoever wins the other person would accept defeat and concede," Ephson noted.
He said any party that wins the presidential vote would have to be able to work with the opposition parliamentarians in order to effectively govern.
"One thing is very clear. Parliament is going to be so tight that even if Nana Akufu-Addo wins and he musters the support of the other MPS (members of parliament) he would get 115, exactly half. The NDC, from our projection would also have 115 so whoever, becomes the next president would need to reach over to the other side to get an extra vote to pass through legislation. So, parliament is going to be very exciting, governance in general," he said.
Although some political analysts believe the run-off could go either way, both Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu Addo of the ruling NPP and John Evans Atta-Mills of the main opposition National Democratic Congress claimed they would win the vote.
Election officials said voting went smoothly in the capital Accra and across the country, despite some minor hitches and disputes.
Meanwhile, some analysts say a turnout higher than the 70 percent recorded in the first round could favor the NPP's Akufo-Addo, while a lower turnout, traditional in second rounds could boost the chances of the NDC's Mills.