Voters across Ghana went to the polls Sunday in a run-off  election to see who will succeed out-going President John Kufuor. 

Thousands of voters lined up before polling stations opened  Sunday morning to cast their ballots for the nation's new president.

One woman waiting to vote at a primary school in the Ashongman neighborhood of the capital, Accra, said turn-out was higher than  the first round of voting December 7.

"This time around, people came very early, earlier than  parliamentary [elections] and people are still in the queue," she said.  "The  queue is not moving at all, but people are eager to vote."

Ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo narrowly defeated opposition  candidate John Atta-Mills in that first round of voting. But because  neither man received the support of more than  50 percent of the  electorate, they are going head-to-head to decide who will lead  their nation of more than 23 million people

Akufo-Addo is a 64-year-old former attorney general and foreign  minister. He says average annual economic growth of more than five  percent and progress in improving Ghana's health care and  infrastructure during the Kufuor administration should help convince  voters to give the ruling party another term in office.

Opposition candidate Atta-Mills is a 64-year-old tax law professor  who says it is time for a change after what he calls 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 to President Kufuor eight years ago.

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

On the eve of Sunday's election, both parties traded accusations of  possible vote rigging. The ruling party says its supporters are  being intimidated in opposition strongholds. The opposition accuses  the ruling party of deploying thugs to polling stations to rig the election.

While the opposition N.D.C. complained of some irregularities in the  December seventh balloting, observers found the vote largely free  and fair. There are high hopes across the country for a similar  outcome this time.

"We have been inspired by the Ghanaian commitment to democracy as  shown on the 7th of December, which was an election that, in our  experience was as open and as transparent as  disciplined as any we  have seen," said election observer John Stremlau, vice president for peace programs  at the U.S.-based Carter Center.  "As you know, any election, any real democracy is full of  tension. And what you want to do is to have the conflicts resolved  through due process and peaceful means."

Following this past week's military coup in Guinea, election  observer and former Speaker of Nigeria's House of Representatives  Aminu Bello Masari says Ghana's vote is an important example of  democracy in West Africa.

"Going by what was done on seventh December, the impact on the  region itself will be such that it will encourage other countries to  try to do as much as Ghana or even better," said Masari.

Ghana's next president is likely to 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 is  likely to 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.

Results from Sunday's balloting are expected late Monday.