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By Scott Stearns
26 December 2008
Presidential candidates in Ghana wrapped-up their campaigning Friday ahead of Sunday's run-off election to succeed out-going President John Kufuor.
|Ghana's opposition party candidate John Atta Mills (l) and Ruling party presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, 09 Dec 2008|
Ghana has closed its borders with Togo, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso in preparation for Sunday's vote.
Ruling-party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo ended his campaign with rallies in the capital, Accra. Opposition candidate John Atta-Mills toured Ghana's western region, and his party also held a final rally in the central region. Both men are hoping to energize their electoral base while reaching out to voters who chose other candidates in a first round of balloting earlier this month that saw turn-out topping 70 percent.
Atta-Mills lost to ruling party candidate Akufo-Addo in that vote. But because neither man received the support of more than 50 percent of the electorate, they go head-to-head Sunday to decide who will lead their nation of more than 23 million people.
The ruling New Patriotic Party lost its legislative majority in the first round, dropping 21 seats to finish with 107 of the 228 seats. The opposition National Democratic Congress party picked up 20 seats to finish with 114 seats.
Akufo-Addo: Cautious Economic Growth
Akufo-Addo is promising to continue the cautious, economic growth policies of President Kufuor. The 64-year-old former attorney-general and foreign minister established Ghana's Committee on Human and People's Rights and helped repeal laws restricting freedom of expression.
|Nana Akufo-Addo casts vote in his hometown of Kyebi, as wife Rebecca Akufo-Addo looks on 07 Dec 2008|
The parliamentarian and lawyer is the son of former Ghanaian President Edward Akufo-Addo and comes from a royal family in Ghana's eastern region. He was educated in England and has practiced law in both England and France.
Akufo-Addo said average annual economic growth of more than five percent and progress in improving Ghana's health care and infrastructure during the Kufuor administration should help convince voters to give the ruling party another term in office.
Atta-Mills: Time for Change
Opposition candidate Atta-Mills said it is time for a change after what he calls eight years of "miserable failure." The 64-year-old tax law professor was vice president to Ghana's former leader, Jerry Rawlings, who came to power in a coup 27 years ago. Mr. Rawlings introduced some economic and political reforms before handing over to President Kufuor eight years ago.
This is Atta-Mills' third attempt at the presidency, having lost twice to President Kufuor. Atta-Mills is from Ghana's central region. He studied law at London's School of Oriental and African Studies and at Stanford Law School in California as a Fulbright scholar.
|Supporters of opposition candidate John Atta Mills in Accra, 09 Dec 2008|
The former national tax commissioner introduced Ghana's value-added tax. His election manifesto is highly-critical of the ruling party, saying a generation of Ghanaians are facing a future of despair, immorality and crime.
Oil in Ghana's Future
Whoever wins is likely to enjoy a considerable new source of revenue following the discovery of off-shore oil fields that could produce as much as 150,000 barrels a day by 2010. That is likely to ease the impact of higher food and fuel prices in an economy that is already Africa's second largest producer of gold and the world's second biggest exporter of cocoa.
Early balloting was held this week for those who will be working Sunday including members of the military, police, fire brigades and prison services.
While the opposition NDC complained of some irregularities in the December 7 balloting, observers found the vote largely free and fair. Those observers returning for the second round include delegations from the Economic Community of West Africa States, the Pan-African Parliament, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, the European Union, and the U.S.-based Carter Center.