Ghana run-off voting – Prof. Mills heads for victory

Prof. John Evans Atta Mills
Prof. John Evans Atta Mills

John Atta Mills, Ghana’s former vice president, headed for victory in the west African nation’s presidential runoff election that will determine who gets to spend the revenue from recent oil discoveries.

Mills, head of the National Democratic Congress, had 4.2 million votes, or 51.1 percent of the vote, from 211 of 230 constituencies, according to results published on the Web site of Joy FM, an Accra-based radio station. Nana Akufo-Addo, candidate for the ruling New Patriotic Party candidate, polled 4.03 million votes, or 48.9 percent, Joy reported, citing figures it said were collated at polling stations.

“The results are as close as they were in the first round,” Kojo Asante, a researcher with the Accra-based Center for Democratic Development, said in a telephone interview. The Electoral Commission of Ghana may have to delay the release of the final results, because the outcome in some constituencies may be contested, he added.

The winner of the poll will take control of the world’s second-biggest cocoa grower and Africa’s No. 2 gold producer, as well as have oversight of newly discovered oil reserves, which U.K. explorer Tullow Oil Plc expects to begin extracting by 2010.

Joy Radio projected Mills would win by about 68,430 votes. The Electoral Commission’s Web site said results from the runoff would be posted “shortly.”

Pro-Business Policies

Mills, 62, a university professor, has pledged to cut poverty and help consumers cope with higher fuel and food prices, while Akufo-Addo, also 62, promised to continue the pro- business policies of outgoing President John Kufuor. Mills won 48 percent support in the initial vote on Dec. 7 to Akufo-Addo’s 49 percent.

In legislative elections that coincided with the first- round presidential vote, Mill’s NDC won 114 seats to the then- ruling NPP’s 107. Seven seats went to smaller parties and independent candidates, while two seats are disputed.

“We haven’t had the evidence to support any systematic irregularities or violence that could throw the result in doubt,” said Asante, whose organization is helping monitor the polls.

NPP polling agents were unable to monitor the vote in some areas due to intimidation and the party is deciding whether to contest those results, spokesman Arthur Kennedy said.

“We are still examining our options,” he said in a telephone interview. “When we look at some of them that are still outstanding we are cautiously optimistic we can get a narrow victory,” he said of the outstanding poll results.


Police arrested an unspecified number of people who tried to steal ballot boxes yesterday, said Kwesi Ofori, deputy superintendent of the Ghana Police Service.

“There were no grave issues” that threatened the election’s credibility, he said.

Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African nation to gain independence from its colonial ruler, Britain, in 1957. The country’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, a proponent of a pan- African government, was ousted in a military takeover in 1966. The country has experienced four more coups since then, two of which installed Jerry Rawlings as the nation’s president.

Yesterday’s runoff is the second since Ghana returned to multiparty democracy in 1992. Kufuor, who is stepping down after two terms in office, won in a second-round election in 2000 that saw the NPP take power from the NDC.

Ghana’s economic policy is unlikely to change significantly under a new government, according to Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender.

Ghana’s gross domestic product grew by 6.3 percent last year, up from 3.7 percent in 2000. Gold accounts for 41 percent of its export revenue and cocoa 27 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Credit; Emily Bowers

Source: Bloomberg

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