Colourful, muddy carnivals cap Ghana vote campaign

Thousands of Ghanaians on Friday held colourful final rallies amid heavy downpours as political parties wrapped up their campaigns ahead of Sunday’s presidential and legislative vote.

On December 7, 12,8-million Ghanaians will cast ballots to choose who will be governing their country, a former British colony formerly known as the Gold Coast before independence in 1957, when it starts pumping oil in 2010.

Seven candidates are vying for the presidential office for which President John Kufuor cannot run since he has governed for the maximum two four-year terms.

In a sports ground of Accra Academy, thousands of supporters sporting the ruling New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) red, blue and white colours danced the day away under heavy rains and in muddy pools of water before they listened to speeches six hours later.

Outgoing President Kufuor took to the dance floor on a giant podium festooned with red, blue and white drapes and balloons, in front of a towering inflatable elephant, the NPP’s symbol.

Observers say the vote is too close to call. Kufuor’s party is fielding Nana Akufo-Addo (64), a lawyer and former Cabinet minister while the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has John Atta-Mills, also 64, a law professor as its candidate.

Many are pointing to a run-off. But the NPP is aiming for a first-round victory.

“One touch for Nana,” said Kufuor to an applauding crowd.

“We are going for a decisive victory … one-touch victory,” said Akufo-Addo.

Oheneba Ackaal (32), an NPP supporter, dressed in a trademark Ghanaian white kente shirt with red and blue stripes, says “it’s automatic, this man has won the election, he is like fire. There is nothing to stop him from winning.”

About 50km east of Accra in the port city of Tema, the NDC of former president Jerry Rawlings held its own rally where the party’s red, white, green and black colours covered the square.

“The country is ready for freedom and justice, the country wants to get out of prison,” said Rawlings.

Atta-Mills promised supporters that the first action he would take if elected into office would be to reduce the price of petroleum products since global fuel prices have also plummeted.

Akufo-Addo said the NPP government had discovered oil and would apply “a business-like approach” to the management of oil.

Papa Kwesi Nduom (55), a businessman representing the Convention People’s Party (CPP), who is likely to come third in the race, drove around Accra in a convoy of cars, wooing last-minute support.

At one time his convoy drove past the venue of the NNP rally where supporters appeared not to take notice. Some CPP campaigners went about on horseback dressed in his party regalia, through thick crowds of NPP activists. — AFP

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