EU praise Ghana elections as ruling party candidate maintains lead
The European Union's election monitoring team Tuesday said that Ghana's elections were open, transparent and competitive as the ruling party's candidate maintained a slim lead while vote counting continued, dpa reported.
"While the process is still ongoing, the 2008 elections have so far helped to strengthen the democratic institutions of Ghana, and Ghana's democratic credentials in the region, Africa and the world at large," EU Chief Observer Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.
Some were worried that Sunday's simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections could spark the kind of violence witnessed in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria earlier this year. But with a large chunk of the votes counted, the fears seem unfounded.
"The competitive campaign and the overall peaceful environment are a tribute to Ghanaian democracy," said Mladenov.
Provisional results on the Electoral Commission of Ghana's website put New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Nana Akufo-Addoe's vote take at 49.15 per cent of the total as of 1430GMT Tuesday.
His main oppponent, John Evans Atta Mills of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), had 47.99 per cent of the presidential vote.
Should neither candidate reach the 50 per cent plus one vote mark, a run-off election will be held on December 28.
The race for the 230-seat parliament was just as close. The NPP has 78 seats so far while the NDC has 77, meaning that the NPP is likely to lose its large majority in parliament.
Full results are expected by the end of Wednesday or sooner.
Atta Mills and Akufo-Addoe are vying to replace John Kufuor, who must step down in January after serving two terms.
Kufuor has revived the Ghanaian economy by bringing pro-market reforms and political stability. Economic growth has been strong, and the NPP campaigned on a platform of continuity.
However, despite the growth and the fact that Ghana is the second- largest cocoa grower in the world and Africa's second-biggest producer of gold, there is still widespread poverty among ordinary Ghanians.
The NDC said this showed that new leadership was required.
Both main parties also promised good governance when it comes to revenue from newly-discovered oil, due to come onstream in late 2010.
Ghana's National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) expects 120,000 barrels per day initially, with that figure rising to 250,000 barrels a day within two years.