Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Q&A: Ghana elections

President John Kufuor
President John Kufuor is stepping down after serving two consecutive terms.
Ghanaian voters go to the polls on Sunday to elect the West African country's next president and 230 members of parliament.

Incumbent President John Agyekum Kufuor is stepping down after serving two consecutive terms - the maximum that he is entitled to under the country's constitution.

How does the system work?

Both presidential and parliamentary candidates are elected through universal suffrage for four-year terms.

To win, a presidential candidate must receive more than 50% of the votes.

There are 12 million registered voters and 22,000 polling stations across the country, which will open at 0700GMT.

The constitution requires that voters are Ghanaian citizens who are at least 18 years old. Despite the huge numbers of Ghanaians abroad, Ghana's electoral laws do not allow citizens in the diaspora to vote.

What are the issues?


Despite its image as a model of good governance and democracy in Africa, many Ghanaians are concerned that corruption is rife in their country.

Opposition presidential candidate John Atta Mills has accused the ruling NPP of running a government that "stinks of corruption". All the candidates have vowed to address the issues of corruption and accountability.


Ghana's economy has benefited from generous foreign investment but the country's economic progress has not always trickled down to the majority of Ghanaians.

There are still high levels of poverty and unemployment and there are also big differences in the distribution of wealth between the north and the south.

Some regions and communities claim they are discriminated against by the government, especially in the distribution of resources and key positions.


The stakes have risen with the recent discovery of oil in the country's Western Region, and all candidates have been quick to stress the need to avoid mismanagement of oil revenues.

The opposition NDC party has appealed to voters in the Western Region to "elect a responsible government to properly manage the oil reserves", while Papa Kwesi Ndoum, the candidate for the Convention People's Party, says it is imperative that all Ghanaians benefit from the recent discovery of offshore oil reserves.

The ruling party candidate has promised to manage the country's future oil revenues well if he and his party are re-elected.

Who are the main presidential candidates, parties?

Eight candidates have been cleared to run for president but only four are considered to have a realistic chance of success.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (National Patriotic Party)

Mr Akufo-Addo, 68, helped found the governing National Patriotic Party (NPP) in 1992.

He is a supporter of free market economics and has said he wants to see Ghana develop into a "modern, responsible, educated nation where people will be able to live in peace and security".

Mr Akufo-Addo has served as the country's attorney-general, justice minister and foreign affairs minister. In the last election the NPP party won 129 of the 230 parliamentary seats, followed by the NDC with 93 seats.

John Evans Atta Mills (National Democratic Congress)

Mr Atta Mills, 68, is running for presidency for the third time, having lost twice against John Kufour, in 2000 and in 2004.

He served as the country's vice-president between 1997-2000 and is campaigning on a platform of good governance.

Edward Mahama (People's National Convention)

Edward Mahama, 67, is the candidate of the People's National Convention (PNC), a party popular in the north. He is a retired doctor and unsuccessfully stood for the presidency in 1996 and 2000.

Papa Kwesi Ndoum (Convention People's Party)

Mr Ndoum, 55, served as minister of state in various portfolios in the Kufuor government between 2001 and 2007. He has pledged to review the country's constitution within the first 100 days.

The Convention People's Party is a socialist political party formed in 1949 by founding President Kwame Nkrumah.

Will the election be fair?

The opposition NDC has accused the electoral commission of colluding with the governing NPP to tamper with the poll. The NPP has dismissed the accusations.

The NDC has further accused the ruling NPP of preparing to try to force a power-sharing deal on the lines of that brokered in Kenya if it loses the election.

Vice-President Alhaji Aliu Mahama has denied the allegations, saying Ghana's electoral laws "enable a political party to win elections without violence, disturbance or upheaval".

The NDC's presidential hopeful, Mr Atta Mills, has himself had to deny allegations that his party had sent an emissary to Kenya to learn "a strategy for power-sharing" if it loses the election.

Numerous local organisations will monitor the elections for fairness. Foreign observers include representatives from the Carter Centre, the EU and the regional body, Ecowas.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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