Ghana electing next president, parliament | News | DW | 07.12.2016
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Ghana electing next president, parliament

Ghanaians are electing their next president and 275-member parliament with voters worried by three years of economic downturn. Incumbent John Dramani Mahama is being challenged by seven presidential candidates.

Long queues formed Wednesday as 15.7 million eligible Ghanaians were called to cast ballots in the West African nation rich in cocoa, gold and recently discovered oil but enduring sharp rises in prices for fuel and water.

Mahama was running for a second four-year term on a record of building schools, roads and health facilities while warning that defeat for his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government would erode progress made during his term.

Ghana Präsident John Dramani Mahama (BDI/C. Kruppa)

Mahama at a business summit in Berlin in 2015

His fiercest challenger was Nana Akufo-Addo, the leader of Ghana's largest opposition group, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and former foreign minister.

He has promised to create jobs through industrialization, including the new oil sector.

If no candidate gains 51 percent or more of the vote, the presidential election will go to a second round.

Afrika Nana Akufo-Addo Außenminister (imago/Xinhua)

Akufo-Addo wants a wave of industrialization

Since 2011, Ghana has been troubled by the decline in global commodity prices, high unemployment levels and opposition-perceived economic mismanagement.

"The sitting president is doing well but he needs the support to continue his good work," said Dogbe, a young architect in Accra, referring to improvements in infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.

Taxi driver Godwin Andor said he believed the opposition "can do a better job than the current administration."

Another taxi driver, Stephen Antwi Boasiako, said he could barely afford to pay taxes and insurance for his vehicle.

"I blame the Mahama government 100 percent," he said.

Results three days away

Bidding for 275 parliamentary seats were 1,158 candidates, including 136 women.

Security forces have been deployed in strength. Keeping watch were observers from Britain, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Election results were expected within 72 hours after the closure of Ghana's 29,000 polling stations.

Ghana's 2012 election result was challenged by the opposition, leading to a supreme court case widely portrayed as reinforcing the country's democracy.

Ghana, a nation of 26 million people in total, became independent of colonial rule in 1957, and has often been held as a beacon of democracy in West Africa with a reputation for peaceful elections.

ipj/se (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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