GHANA VOTING BEGINS DESPITE PARTY BOYCOTT


Voting is under way in a remote Ghana district to decide the outcome of a knife-edge presidential election, despite a governing party boycott. The New Patriotic Front (NPP) has sought an injunction to delay Friday’s voting in Tain constituency, but the court adjourned the case until Monday.

gana-3NPP officials said the atmosphere in the rural district was not conducive to a free and fair election. Tain did not vote last Sunday because of a problem distributing ballots. Opposition candidate John Atta Mills has a narrow lead over the ruling party’s Nana Akufo-Addo.

There is growing pressure on the governing party to accept the outcome of the election and to avoid stalling the process via the courts, say the BBC’s Will Ross, in Ghana’s capital Accra. Amid heightened fears of poll-related violence, President John Kufour has again spoken out to urge both candidates to accept the election result, appealing to them to avert a constitutional crisis.

President Kufour is stepping down after serving the maximum two terms in office and his successor is due to be sworn in on 7 January. Soldiers and police have been deployed across Tain – the last of Ghana’s 230 constituencies to vote – and polling stations are due to close at 1700 GMT.

The electoral commission is not expected to announce the outcome from the district, along with the presidential result, until Saturday at the earliest. Ghana state radio reported that NPP agents with loudhailers had toured towns and villages in the district on Thursday night urging supporters to boycott the vote. The party’s attempts to block the ballot have been criticised by civil groups.

SOURCED FROM BBC

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