Day two of Ghana’s presidential election

Quick Synopsis ;

  • Voting went smoothly on Friday in many areas, but a new biometric system requiring electronic fingerprints from voters suffered a number of breakdowns in certain districts, resulting in long lines and much frustration
  • President John Dramani Mahama is vying for a first elected term against main opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in a nation reaping the benefits of a booming economy fuelled in part by a new and expanding oil industry
  • There are a total of eight presidential candidates, which could result in a second round runoff vote on December 28

 

Ghana extended its presidential election into a second day on Saturday after technical glitches led to long delays in some areas in a country seeking to further burnish its democratic credentials.

Voting went smoothly on Friday in many areas, but a new biometric system requiring electronic fingerprints from voters suffered a number of breakdowns in certain districts, resulting in long lines and much frustration.

Voting materials also arrived late in some areas, causing some polling stations to open far behind schedule.

President John Dramani Mahama is vying for a first elected term against main opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in a nation reaping the benefits of a booming economy fuelled in part by a new and expanding oil industry.

The results are expected to be close in a country that has been seeking to live up to its reputation as an example of stable democracy in turbulent West Africa. Voters are also electing a 275-seat parliament.

An electoral commission statement said the directive extending voting into Saturday applied to polling stations where the biometric system had broken down or where the necessary materials arrived especially late.

It was not clear how many polling stations were affected in the country of some 24 million people, including around 14 million registered voters.

“We are talking about isolated instances,” electoral commission chief Kwado Afari-Gyan told AFP. “It is not a mass problem.”

Spokesmen for the two main political parties expressed support for the commission, however some voters still in line on Friday night reacted angrily.

The announcement came with counting already underway in districts where voting was completed.

Results from the elections had been expected as early as Sunday, but it was unclear whether that timeframe would remain after the extension.

There are a total of eight presidential candidates, which could result in a second round runoff vote on December 28.

Long lines formed in many areas on Friday and a number of voters had waited all night to be able to cast ballots on Friday morning.

Mahama, after voting in the country’s northern region, addressed the late start in some areas, saying he had been informed “that the problems have been resolved”.

“This year’s elections will go down in history as the best ever to be held in Ghana,” he said.

Akufo-Addo voted in the country’s eastern region and expressed hope that the polls would remain peaceful.

In the Jamestown area of the capital Accra, one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods with faded colonial architecture and congested streets, voters grew angry, after waiting in line hours, and shouted at authorities.

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