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Ghana leader heads for poll win
Description: John Atta-Mills, former Visiting Scholar at UBC and Senior Associate Professor at the Liu Institute for Global Issues still in race for Ghana presidency.
Date: 07 December 2004
Source: BBC News World Edition
John Atta-Mills, former Visiting Scholar at UBC and Senior Associate Professor at the Liu Institute for Global Issues still in race for Ghana presidency.

Ghana's President John Kufuor is maintaining a clear lead as counting continues after Tuesday's election.
With 5.9 million votes counted - more than half the registered voters - Mr Kufuor has 55%, compared to 42% for his main rival John Atta Mills.

The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is also doing well, but many constituencies which have declared are in the party's strongholds.

The main opposition party is ahead in the eastern Volta region.

Of 230 parliamentary seats up for grabs, 149 constituencies have already been declared.

In one shock result, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has picked up one of six newly-created in the NPP-stronghold region of Ashanti.

The presidential election was the fourth in Ghana since the country became a multi-party state in 1992.

Four candidates are contesting the presidency and partial results point to Mr Kufour securing a second and final term.

He may also avoid a run-off for the presidency if he maintains more than 50% of the votes cast.

The election has been praised for being well-run, calm and orderly. Turnout was high with long queues of people waiting patiently to vote.

But is is not yet clear how many of the country's 10.4 million registered voters turned out for the ballot.

Relatively Free

Queuing began across Ghana before the polls opened and few problems were reported throughout the day.

"Turnout was high across the country thanks to voter awareness efforts, and the voting was relatively free of direct political influence on voters," a coalition of civilian, professional and religious observers told the AFP news agency.

However, the BBC's Iliasu Adam in the northern capital, Tamale, says that a group of people on motorbikes starting questioning the age of those queuing to vote, some 20km outside the town.

This led to arguments and shots were fired, leaving two people dead.

Parts of the north have been tense for the past two years after a traditional king was killed, along with about 40 of his officials.


Mr Kufuor, known as the "gentle giant", has been campaigning under the slogan "so far so good".

After voting, Mr Kufuor told the BBC he was confident of victory saying he "felt a lot of goodwill from Ghanaians".

The BBC's West Africa correspondent Andrew Simmons says the emphasis has been placed on Ghana's economic and political stability.
Mr Kufuor's main rival, MrAtta Mills of the NDC, challenged the president's economic record, highlighting price rises for petrol and utilities along with increased school fees.

He told the BBC he was also very confident of victory.

"I am hoping what I am seeing here is replicated at other polling stations across the country," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Four years ago, Mr Kufuor defeated Mr Atta Mills - an election that marked the country's first peaceful and democratic transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1957.

But poverty is still rife, especially in the north. An estimated 40% of Ghana's 20 million people are living below the United Nations poverty line of $1 pay per day and do not have access to sanitation, clean water or a regular electricity supply.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/12/08 17:51:40 GMT


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