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Page last updated at 20:49 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Ruling party's man leads in Ghana

NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra on 5 December 2008
Nana Akufo-Addo has a slender lead in the poll count so far

The candidate of Ghana's ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, is narrowly ahead in the ongoing count from Sunday's presidential election.

He holds a slender lead over opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) contender John Atta Mills.

But with most precincts counted it is not yet clear if either has over the 50% of votes needed to avoid a run-off.

Our correspondent says results are being disputed, raising the risk of a peaceful poll turning acrimonious.

The NDC has accused the governing party of plotting to rig the election, with the support of the military.

'Mischievous'

But the NPP denied the charges, saying in a statement reported by AFP news agency: "The NDC is not winning and we are not trying to rig this election."

Supporters of opposition candidate John Atta Mills in Accra on 9 December 2008
Opposition supporters are confident their candidate will win

The military branded the allegations "totally false, mischievous and calculated to undermine the integrity of the military high command and the unity of the country", reported AFP.

The elections, which attracted a high turnout, "have so far been conducted in an open, transparent and competitive environment", said a team of observers from the European Union on Tuesday.

However, there have been isolated reports of violence.

Two-horse race

Ghanaian electoral officials were attacked by youths and two ballot boxes were seized, minutes after results were declared from some polling stations in the mainly pro-NDC Volta region of eastern Ghana.

If neither of the two leading contenders can make it over a 50% share of the vote, a run-off must be held on 28 December.

There were eight candidates to succeed President John Kufuor - who steps down in January having served the maximum two terms - but the election has been a two-horse race, says the BBC's Will Ross in Accra.

Voters queue in Accra

There was a poor showing for third-place candidate Papa Kwesi Nduom, of the Convention People's Party, who had been seen as a possible kingmaker or spoiler.

The electoral commission has until Wednesday afternoon to release the final official results from Ghana's fifth set of elections since embracing multi-party democracy in 1992.

Ghana is also choosing its new parliament. The governing party had a clear majority before this election but that is no longer the case and the two rival parties are neck-and-neck.

Results so far show the centre-right NPP has lost some key seats to its opposition rival, including that of President Kufuor's information minister.

The former British colony was the first African state to gain its independence in 1957, but was plagued by coups until the return to multi-party democracy in 1992.

The nation of 22 million people is the world's second biggest cocoa grower and Africa's number two gold miner.

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Q&A: Ghana elections
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