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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 December, 2004, 18:49 GMT
Voting ends in 'calm' Ghana poll
Queue to vote
Initial reports suggested voting was calm and orderly
Polling has ended in Ghana's vote for a new president in which the incumbent John Kufuor - nicknamed the gentle giant - seeks a second and final term.

Turnout was strong and orderly queues formed early as people waited to vote several hours before polling began.

Four candidates are contesting the presidency while eight parties are fighting for 230 parliamentary seats.

The presidential election was the fourth in Ghana since the country became a multi-party state in 1992.


Queuing began across Ghana before the polls opened at 0700 GMT, and there were few reported problems throughout the day before polling ended at 1700 GMT.

Opposition presidential candidate John Atta Mills on the campaign trail in Ghana

Nevertheless some voters waited several hours to cast their votes, reporters observed.

"Turnout was high across the country thanks to voter awareness efforts, and the voting was relatively free of direct political influence on voters," a coalition of civilian, professional and religious observers told the AFP news agency.

Mr Kufuor's New Patriotic Party, NPP, has been campaigning under the slogan "so far so good".

After voting, Mr Kufuor told the BBC he was feeling very good and confident of victory saying he "felt a lot of goodwill from Ghanaians".

Turnout has been high across the country.

Only one or two isolated incidents have been reported in the northern Tamale area, according to a BBC reporter there.

Another BBC reporter in Ho in eastern Ghana said that queues were heavy early on as many farmers voted before heading to their fields.


The BBC's West Africa correspondent Andrew Simmons says the emphasis has been placed on Ghana's economic and political stability.

Supporter of incumbent Ghanaian President John Kufuor
Under Kufuor, the economy has stabilised but poverty has remained
Mr Kufuor's main rival, John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress, challenged the president's economic record, highlighting price rises for petrol and utilities along with increased school fees.

He told the BBC he was very confident of victory, after casting his vote in an NDC stronghold.

"I am hoping what I am seeing here is replicated at other polling stations across the country," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Mr Kufuor, an Oxford-educated lawyer, insists that while his first mandate brought stability, a second term would enable increased growth in the private sector.

A slide in Ghana's currency has slowed. Its inflation rate is 12.4%. That is down from more than 40% four years ago when Mr Kufuor defeated Mr Atta Mills - an election that marked the country's first peaceful and democratic transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1957.

Since that election in 2000, the cost of borrowing has also been cut, by half.

But poverty is still rife. An estimated 40% of Ghana's 20 million people are living below the United Nations poverty line of $1 pay per day and do not have access to sanitation, clean water or a regular electricity supply.

The opposition has raised fears about the fairness of the ballot, but the independent electoral commission has given strong assurances that the voting in 21,000 polling stations will go ahead freely and fairly.

Ghana was the first country in West Africa to gain independence back in 1957, but it took another 35 years for it to become a multi-party democracy.

Q&A: Ghana votes
03 Dec 04 |  Africa
Ghana's grudge match
28 Sep 04 |  Africa
Taking the pulse of Ghana
18 Oct 04 |  Africa
Country profile: Ghana
17 Jul 04 |  Country profiles
Is politics too personal?
03 Dec 04 |  Africa

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