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Vote count begins amid mutual accusations

©

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Latest update : 2008-12-29

Ghanaians cast their votes to elect a new president Sunday in a run-off vote that observers hoped would serve as a model for the continent. But the two rival camps soon hurled accusations of fraud at each other.

AFP- Voting ended Sunday in Ghana's presidential polls, but amid mutual accusations of intimidation and fraud in an election that observers still hope will serve as a positive example for the continent.
  
Before polling had even ended, election monitors were looking into the claims from the rival camps in the presidential race.
  
Nana Akufo-Addo of Kufuor's ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is running against John Atta-Mills of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), the party of ex-president Jerry Rawlings.
  
"We have heard various allegations from both parties, we are looking at them in detail..," EU chief observer Nickolay Mladenov told AFP.
  
CODEO, a Ghanaian coalition of observers said it was concerned by "the rising number of incidents in the run-off compared to the December 7 election."
  
Alex Segbefia, the NDC campaign coordinator, complained of voting irregularities in the Ashanti region, traditionally an NPP stronghold.
  
"Our polling agents... have been chased away from various constituencies across Ashanti," Segbefia told reporters as he flipped through a pile of reports.
  
"There is multiple voting. We can't accept results from the Ashanti region. We can't keep up with the complaints," he added.
  
Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the head of the electoral commission, declined to comment on the opposition claims, saying he had not yet seen the reports.
  
"Where I have been (the Volta region), voting has been okay, it has been smooth," he told AFP.
  
On the other side, NPP chairman Jake Lamptey complained that in parts of Volta region, considered an opposition NDC stronghold, NPP accredited agents had been refused access to the polling stations.
  
"Not only refused access but in many cases chased out violently, many have been severely injured," Lamptey told reporters.
  
"This is unacceptable. Some of the assailants have been led by prominent NDC members," he added.
  
"At a few polling stations where we have agents the stations are being surrounded by menacing men."
  
Jendayi Frazer, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, who spent the day observing polling in Ghana, also called for peaceful elections.
  
"Having travelled across the continent and seeing so many places where civil strife and civil war have destroyed the society, I am reminding (Ghanaians) of Ghana's great heritage of peace and stability of this last decade.
  
The US had an interest in Ghana maintaining its strong record of democratic prosperity and stability, she told reporters, calling on the parties to respect the outcome of the vote and to "refrain from provocation and incitement."
  
She added: "Ghana's election is not only an opportunity for peaceful transition from a president that respects term limits, but is also viewed ... as a test, almost a referendum on democracy throughout Africa."
  
This is only the third election since the country's return to democracy in 1992.
  
On December 7, parliamentary and presidential elections were held, which left the opposition NDC the largest party in the 230-seat parliament with 114 seats, against 107 for the NPP.
  
But the presidential election went to a run-off after none of the contenders managed to win the more than 50 percent of ballots cast required for an outright victory.
  
After the first round the NPP's Akufo-Addo led with 49.13 percent of valid ballots cast, with Atta-Mills having won 47.92 percent.
  
It is only since the December 7 vote, which passed off peacefully, that tensions began to rise.
  
Last week Guinea, Africa's second-oldest independent state, was rocked by a bloodless coup, moments after the death of a its longtime president Lansana Conte.
  
And in August, Mauritania's first democratically elected leader was ousted in a coup.
 

Date created : 2008-12-28

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