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Q&A: Ghana election run-off

Ghanaian politics is on a knife edge after a closely-fought presidential election on 7 December failed to establish a winner. A run-off ballot is to be held on 28 December. This time, only the two leading candidates will participate.

Why hold a second round?

Incumbent President John Agyekum Kufuor has to step down after serving two consecutive terms - the maximum amount of time that the constitution allows.

This is why voters went to the polls in early December. However, electoral laws demand that the winner gain more than 50% of the vote, which none of the eight original contestants managed to achieve.

According to the results certified by the electoral commission, the ruling party won 49% of the ballots while the former ruling party came second with 48%.

Who are the candidates?

Nana Akufo-Addo and John Atta Mills
The race between Akufo-Addo (top) and Atta Mills is closely fought
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) comes from one of Ghana's distinguished political families - his father was a former president of Ghana.

Mr Akufo-Addo is a lawyer who trained in both Ghana and the UK, and has been a justice minister and foreign affairs minister.

Mr Akufo-Addo, who is campaigning on the theme of "continuity", has pledged to bring forth "a modern, responsible, educated nation".

He has pledged good management of the country's future oil revenues if re-elected.

John Evans Atta Mills of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is seeking the presidency for the third time, having lost elections in 2000 and 2004.

He served as vice-president to Jerry Rawlings between 1997 and January 2001.

An academic, he taught law in Ghana for many years and has a UK doctorate.

He is also a widely-published tax expert. Mr Atta Mills is campaigning on a "change" platform and has been vocal in accusing the current government of corruption.

What are their strategies this time?

Both parties have said they are revisiting their campaign strategies for the run-off.

They have both moved from addressing large rallies to going door-to-door and talking to smaller community groups.

The ruling NPP has said it is concerned about voter apathy and is calling on its supporters to "vote massively" in the second round.

What concerns were raised the first time round?

There was a high percentage of rejected ballots - around 200,000.

One possible explanation is that voters were confused as to which finger they were supposed to use on the ballot paper.

Ghana's electoral commission requires that the thumb be used.

Many people are said to have used their little fingers, which had been dipped in indelible ink prior to voting.

This has led to calls from various quarters, including President Kufuor, that the indelible ink be applied after voters cast their ballot in the run-off.

The polls commission, however, insists that the rules will not change.

What else could hinder the vote?

There were also concerns over the slow speed of voting on 7 December.

The poll commission noted long, slow queues in the first round and has arranged for more centres to serve areas with high numbers of potential voters.

Will the run-off be peaceful?

Election observers are not expecting any major confrontations, since the first round was rated generally peaceful and transparent by AU and EU observers.

Even in the north where there had been fears of possible violence, no incidents were reported.

BBC Monitoring selects 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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SEE ALSO
Timeline: Ghana
25 Jun 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Ghana
25 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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