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By Scott Stearns
02 January 2009
Ghanaian President John Kufuor is asking voters to stay calm as they await results from a single electoral constituency that could decide the nation's next leader. The opposition candidate has a slight lead over his ruling-party rival.
|Ghana's President John Kufuor, (file photo)|
State radio in Ghana says results from Friday's delayed voting in the remote Tain district should be announced Saturday.
A shortage of ballot papers during last Sunday's presidential run-off forced the revoting in Tain when Ghana's Electoral Commission said it could not name a winner without those results.
With nearly nine million ballots cast, opposition candidate John Atta-Mills leads ruling-party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo by just over 23,000 votes. So the 53,000 registered voters in Tain could well decide Ghana's next president.
|Ghana's opposition party candidate John Atta Mills, left, and Ruling party presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, Ghana, 09 Dec 2008|
During the first round of presidential balloting December 7, Atta-Mills narrowly won the Tain constituency, edging out Akufo-Addo by fewer than 1,300 votes.
Ghana's ruling National Patriotic Party boycotted Friday's delayed voting in Tain over what it said were security concerns. Electoral observers reported no problems as hundreds of soldiers and police were deployed to keep order.
President Kufuor is appealing for calm as voters await the final outcome of a hard-fought, closely-contested race. In a statement read on national radio, he said Ghanaians can count on security forces to remain neutral.
He said it is important to meet the constitutional timetable of handing-over power January 7, so all stakeholders should to yield to the authority of the electoral commissioner. President Kufuor said any outstanding issues can be settled later by due process.
Lawyers from his party are seeking a court order to prevent the electoral commission from announcing any more results, but that case has been adjourned until next week when the winner may well be known.
With all but the Tain votes counted, opposition candidate Atta-Mills has 50.13 percent of the vote. The ruling party's Akufo-Addo has 49.87 percent. Akufo-Addo won the first round of balloting. But because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the votes cast, he and Atta-Mills went head-to-head in a second round that was to decide the winner.
|ECOWAS observer watches woman casting her vote in Nkawas, in Tain constituency, 02 Jan 2009|
Now the contest hangs on the results of revoting in Tain and the Electoral Commission's investigation of allegations of vote fraud by both the ruling party and the opposition. The electoral commission says its examination of alleged fraud in the Ashanti and Volta districts will be factored into the final outcome.
The commission has given no indication about when those investigations might be completed or when a winner might be announced.
Whoever wins will rule with a decidedly different parliament as the ruling party lost its legislative majority in the first round of voting.