Ghana election cliffhanger to be decided on Friday

The outcome of Ghana’s presidential run-off is too close to call and will be decided by voting on Friday in a single constituency where balloting has yet to take place, the electoral commission said on Tuesday.

In a twist to what was already a tense and closely fought race, the commission said the outstanding vote in the Tain constituency would determine the final result of the election in the West African state, the world’s number two producer of cocoa.

With votes counted from 229 of the 230 constituencies, John Atta Mills of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) held a slender lead with 50,13% of the votes, while Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had 49,87%.

Only 23 050 votes separated the two.

This made the race too close to call in the absence of Tain, which has about 53 000 registered electors and where voting did not take place in Sunday’s run-off ”due to circumstances beyond our control”, election commission chief Kwadwo Afari-Gyan said.

”The results are so close that the outcome of the Tain constituency election could affect the eventual winner,” Gyan said, adding the constituency, located in Ghana’s central Brong Ahafo region, would vote on Friday.

Mills’ supporters, who had already been celebrating his expected narrow victory, sang and danced around the commission headquarters, which was heavily guarded by police.

They remained confident, pointing out that in the inconclusive December 7 first round of voting, Mills’s NDC had won Tain with a majority of about 2 000 votes.

”I’m not disappointed at all, I’m happy, because Mills is already a president and the whole of Ghana knows it. Tain is our territory and we are going to win there massively to make it a done deal,” said NDC supporter, Kwako Assem, a taxi driver.

Ghana, on Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, has enjoyed growth and stability in recent years, becoming an investors’ favourite. The country, also a gold producer, will start producing oil in 2010. — Reuters

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