Ghana starts ballot count as thousands still queue to vote | News | DW | 07.12.2012
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Ghana starts ballot count as thousands still queue to vote

Vote counting has begun in Ghana's legislative and presidential elections, despite lengthy delays at polling stations earlier in the day. Booths will re-open Saturday, allowing voters an opportunity to cast their ballot.

Lengthy delays caused by logistical problems and malfunctioning equipment forced many Ghanaians wanting to vote in Friday's election to line up for hours outside polling stations around the country.

The Election Commission confirmed that insufficient ballot papers and ballot boxes caused the delays at some polling stations.

"We have been standing here for five hours. Our line is not moving," voter Alice Hayford said at one of the stations affected.

Waiting to vote

At other booths, electronic verification devices, used to read voters' fingerprints malfunctioned, a commission spokesperson told news agency dpa. They would not comment on how many voters had been unable to cast their ballot as a result.

The spokesperson said that voters whose data had not been verified and unable to vote would be able to cast their ballot on Saturday.

A regional chief of the Upper East region told Accra-based CitiFM that the breakdown had disenfranchised thousands and those registered "should be allowed to vote, otherwise they would not accept the results."

'Democratic advances'

Current President John Dramani Mahama, who voted in his home town of Bole in northern Ghana, said the election was "on course to solidify the country's democratic advances," despite the delays.

"It looks like there have been a few hitches, but they seem isolated," he said after casting his ballot.

"This election is going to consolidate Ghana's democratic credentials once and for all," he added. "After we go through this, I believe there will be no doubt, no questions, about the fact that Ghana is a leading democracy in Africa."

Ghanaians had six presidential candidates to choose from, and an array of political parties vying for the 275 seats in parliament.

Opinion polls had predicted a tight race between the two main candidates, incumbent leader Mahama, who replaced the late John Atta Mills after his sudden death from an illness in July, and main opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Over 13 million people were eligible to vote on Friday in the former British colony.

Results of the ballot are expected within two days. A second round of voting will take place in two weeks if no one wins a majority at this poll.

jlw / bk (dpa, Reuters, AP)