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The BBC's Mark Doyle
"There is no doubt these elections were very democratic, very free"
 real 28k

Monday, 11 December, 2000, 19:53 GMT
Ghana votes for change
The demise of the ruling party was predicted
The demise of the ruling party was predicted
Ghana's main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has fallen just short of gaining an outright majority of seats in parliament after national elections and its candidate also leads in a run-off for the presidency.

According to official results, that end almost two decades of rule under President Jerry Rawlings, the NPP won 99 of the 200 parliamentary seats, seven more than the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).


NPP leader John Kufuor said he was pleased by his showing in the presidential election, in which he scored 4% more than the NDC candidate, Vice-President John Atta-Mills.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Kufuor said his chances of winning the run-off were very good, especially since he had now received the support of several other Ghanaian opposition parties.

An NDC spokesman said his party was still confident of winning the second round of the presidential election, which has to be held within three weeks.


In the previous parliamentary election the NPP won only 61 seats, compared with the NDC's 130.

Of the remaining seats in the new parliament, the People's National Convention won three seats and the Convention People's Party one seat, while four seats went to independents.

The last seat will be decided in a by-election after a candidate died before last Thursday's poll.

Rawlings era ends

The party's candidate, Mr Mills, is the designated successor of President Jerry Rawlings, who is stepping down under a constitutional two-term limit after 19 years in power.

He polled 44.80% against Mr Kufuor's 48.44%.

NDC candidate, Vice President John Atta Mills
John Atta-Mills: Confident of winning second round
Mr Kufuor said his party had "broken down the myth of invincibility" which had surrounded the NDC.

"We have demonstrated that the NDC can be beaten," he said, noting that his party had won in six out of 10 of the country's regions.

An NDC spokesman said the party's key task was to ensure its supporters were mobilised throughout Ghana for the second round of the presidential election more effectively than they had been in the first round.

Clashes

The new president takes power on 7 January.

Thursday's election was marred by sporadic clashes between supporters of the two rival camps and a dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed in the northern town of Bawku.


I am quite surprised. We must go back to the drawing board and review the situation

NDC Secretary-General Alhaji Huudu Yahaya
At least seven people were killed and a number of homes and buildings set on fire - though elsewhere in the country the election passed off peacefully.

The rivals fought over ballot boxes which apparently arrived unaccompanied by election officials.

Thousands of people gathered in the main square in the capital, Accra, to watch results being posted there on a billboard the size of a football pitch.

President Rawlings who seized power through the barrel of a gun but won multi-party elections in 1992 and 1996, said he would respect the poll results as long as the election was "fair, genuine and sincere".

BBC West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle says there is no doubt Ghana's ballot was democratic and free.

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See also:

09 Dec 00 | Africa
Ghana's opposition scents victory
03 Dec 00 | Africa
Ghana campaign heats up
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