Ghanaians show democratic mettle in cliff-hanger vote

Sat Dec 8, 2012 5:00pm EST
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By Richard Valdmanis and Kwasi Kpodo

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana electoral workers tallied final ballots on Saturday in a tight election troubled by delays and technical glitches, but which officials hope will burnish the country's reputation as a model democracy in Africa.

Incumbent President John Dramani Mahama was in a near-deadlock with rival Nana Akufo-Addo, according to early unofficial results, raising the prospect of a repeat of the close race in 2008 that pushed Ghana to the brink of chaos.

The elections have been plagued by delays after hundreds of electronic fingerprint readers - used to identify voters - failed on Friday and forced some polling stations to reopen on Saturday to clear the backlog.

"This election has been hard, but we must remember Ghanaians are one and we must love each other and remain peaceful," said Wellington Dadzie, 69, a former soldier who lives on the outskirts of the capital Accra.

Ghana's more than 30 years of peace and an oil-driven economic boom have earned it a reputation as a bulwark of stability and progress in West Africa, a region better known for civil wars, coups, and corruption.

Both presidential hopefuls were carrying just under 50 percent of the ballots, according to an unofficial tally compiled from more than half the country's polling stations and published late on Saturday by local media.

The General Secretary of Akufo-Addo's party, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, held a late-night press conference claiming he had seen figures showing Akufo-Addo had won with 51 percent.

"We are not declaring results, but the figures we have seen as of this evening indicate that the wishes of those who supported the NPP have been fulfilled," he said, urging party faithful to wear all white on Sunday.   Continued...