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General News
Ghanaians vote in historic elections on Sunday 12/6/2008

Accra, Dec. 5, GNA - About 12 million Ghanaians are expected to Vote in another historic election on Sunday, December 7th after a gruelling campaign that was characterised with violence, intolerance, claims of plots to cheat at the polls, a skewed coverage and a court battle over eligibility of a Presidential Aspirant. The Ghanaian electorate are expected to cast ballots to elect a President out of eight contestants and elect 230 lawmakers out of 1,060 parliamentary candidates in about 22,000 polling stations across the country.
This would be the second time in Ghana''s 51-year history that a democratically elected President would hand over power to another. "We are ready for elections," Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra.
He said electoral materials have been sent to the regional and district capitals for onward distribution to the polling stations, the Ghana Air Force would airlift materials and personnel to the "overseas" areas and other inaccessible centres.
Dr Afari-Gyan said various ministries and departments have been contacted through the Regional Co-ordinating Councils to help to convey materials to the polling stations.
He said the personnel of the Police, Prisons, Fire and Customs, Excise and Preventive Services would man the polling stations throughout the country.
The voting, dubbed "Election 2008", is going ahead after an Accra Fast Track Court on December 2 cleared the knotty issue of a writ of Mandamus application brought before it by Mr Dan Lartey, presidential candidate of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), saying it lacked merit.
By the Order of Mandamus, Mr Lartey was praying the court to compel the Electoral Commission (EC) to accept his nomination forms to enable him to contest as the party''s presidential candidate in the December 7 election.
The Election 2008 would also see President John Agyekum Kufuor stepping down after eight years of tenure. Seven presidential candidates, all supported by political parties, and an Independent candidate are contesting the election for the highest office of the land.
They are Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of New Patriotic Party (NPP); Dr Edward Nasigrie Mahama of People''s National Convention (PNC); Former Vice-President John Evans Atta Mills of National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Mr Emmanuel Ansah Antwi of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP). The others are Mr Thomas Ward-Brew of Democratic People''s Party (DPP); Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom of Convention People''s Party (CPP); Mr Kwamena Adjei of Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD) and Mr Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, the Independent Candidate.
Any candidate who obtains more than 50 per cent of the votes (which many Ghanaians say ''50 per cent plus one vote'') cast wins the presidential contest and would rule for four years. In the event of no candidate winning that magic number in the first round, there would be a run-off between the top-two candidates in two weeks.
According to figures compiled by the Ghana News Agency, a total of 1,060 Parliamentary Candidates are contesting for seats in the 230 member-Legislature, out of which 957 are males and 103 females. A total of 953 Parliamentary Candidates contested for Election 2004; 1,063 contested for Election 2000 and 780 contested for the 1996 Election. The winner of a parliamentary seat is "The First Past The Post" (the one who obtains the highest number of vote).
Election 2008 statistics indicate that the ruling NPP and the main opposition NDC are contesting in 229 Constituencies.
The NPP is contesting for 21 out of the 22 Constituencies in the Western Region whiles the NDC is contesting for 38 out of 39 Constituencies in the Ashanti Region.
The CPP is contesting in 206 constituencies; PNC, 129; DFP, 108; DPP, 49; RPD, 10; and New Vision Party (NVP), four.
The rest are; Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) two seats; Ghana National Party (GNP), one seat and 95 Independent Candidates. The statistics of independent parliamentary candidates indicates that; 18 are contesting in Ashanti Region; 16 in the Northern Region; Eastern and Volta Regions 12 each; Greater Accra, nine; Western Region, eight; Central Region and Brong Ahafo, seven each; Upper East and Upper West Regions, three each.
The regional statistics show; 175 are contesting for 39 seats in Ashanti Region; 142 contesting for 26 seats in the Northern Region; 122 are contesting for 27 seats in the Greater Accra Region and 120 are contesting for Eastern Region''s 28 parliamentary seats.
The rest are; 112 filed to contest for 24 seats in the Brong Ahafo Region; 105 aspirants are contesting for 22 seats in the Volta Region; 90 are contesting for 22 seats in the Western Region; 79 are slotting it out for 19 seats in the Central Region; 63 for 13 seats in the Upper East Region and 52 for 10 seats in the Upper West Region. The outcome of the poll is rather difficult to predict as Ghana has no scientific opinion polling system. All the parties claim their presidential candidates would win in the first round and collect more than half of the parliamentary seats at stake.
However, it is clear that the NPP and NDC are the two biggest parties and the winner of the presidential election would be either Nana Akufo-Addo or Former Vice President Mills. The opposition says the voting pattern would favour them this year but the NPP says the pattern would remain the same and they would win again.
The issues that dominated the campaign were the economy, health, education, social services, corruption and peace. The NPP tried very hard to justify its call on the electorate to return the party to power, pointing at the development of infrastructure such as schools, medical facilities and roads and provision of social services such as water, electricity and telecommunication facilities and general improvement in the economy.
Above all, it said, President Kufuor has ensured that Ghana remained an island of peace in a Sub-Region torn by civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau and bloody electoral violence in other parts of Africa. The opposition tried to undo those arguments by saying that the government has run out of ideas and has not achieved much. They say the economic difficulties have pushed a critical mass of the population to below the poverty line.
They have been accusing government functionaries of crass corruption; money-grubbing; selling of government bungalows to themselves and cronies; becoming filthy rich while a substantial number of the population does not when and where the next meal would come from. The opposition have also complained of an uneven playing field, saying the government took undue advantage of its incumbency and used State resources such as vehicles, equipment and manpower to campaign. They also complained that the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), the public broadcaster, had flouted the 1992 Constitution by giving the NPP more coverage, a charge GBC denies. The NDC especially said the private media, which were more favourable to the ruling parties, told a lot of lies about it.
The Ghanaian love for peace would be put to the test as the results of Election 2008 are awaited. The EC has targeted to deliver the results within 72 hours.
However, taking into consideration the lack of basic infrastructure in certain parts of the country it is going to be a long wait unless one party jumps into an unassailable lead after the results of about 200 constituencies are declared.
The prayer of every Ghanaian is that the losers would accept defeat graciously and congratulate the winner, a pledge Nana Akufo-Addo and Former Vice President Mills have made if the elections were free and fair. 5 Dec. 08


 
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