NewsWest AfricaGhana's voters flock to polling stations in an election on jobs and honesty

Thu,23Nov2017

Posted on Wednesday, 07 December 2016 11:42

Ghana's voters flock to polling stations in an election on jobs and honesty

By Patrick Smith in Kumasi

An electoral official transports a ballot box to a Polling station in Kyebi, eastern Ghana. Photo: Sunday Alamba/AP/SIPAMillions of Ghanaians have been queueing to vote since the early hours of Wednesday morning after a lengthy and often bitter campaign dominated by economic questions.

 

Electoral officials predict a record turn out, perhaps over 80% of the 15.7 million voters. That’s well above the average 70% turnout seen in recent elections. With an extra million votes in contention, this could produce some surprise results.

President John Mahama is betting that the grand projects — roads, hospitals and airports — showcased in the last few weeks will convince voters that state investments will soon start to boost the flagging economy, estimated to be growing at 3.3% this year.

Opposition presidential candidate Nana Addo Akufo Addo has been pushing a simpler message: Ghana needs political change and jobs. Opposition supporters waving party flags and rotating their hands — a sign that they back the call for change — lined the roads into Kumasi on the eve of the elections.

Voting started slowly in Kumasi and Accra amid reports of logistical delays in delivery of ballots and ballot boxes. There are also concerns about the reliability of the biometric machines which all voters have to use to confirm that they are on the electoral register. Several problems emerged with the machines in two days of early voting last week.

Both the main parties — the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) — have stepped up claims that their opponents are trying to rig the vote. The police are investigating some of the more spectacular accusations.

Kofi Adams, the NDC campaign chairman, accused opposition MPs of colluding with officials in the Electoral Commission to skew votes in Accra, the capital where some some three million are registered to vote. Adams has distributed a secret recording of a meeting which purports to prove his claim.

However, the NPP has led the field with complaints which include the mysterious appearance in a Kumasi hotel of thousands of fake ballot papers marked with votes for President John Mahama and its latest allegations that some 600,000 fake voting cards have been produced for the ruling party. It also asserts that one of its candidates, Cecilia Amoah in Asupifi South constituency in Brong Ahafo, was attacked by thugs linked to the NDC.

For some, the partisan slanging match is irrelevant. “I’m not voting for any of them … there’s has been no development vision in this country since [founding President Kwame] Nkrumah,” according to Joseph Asomaning, a teacher speaking outside a polling station in Ajusu, on the outskirts of Kumasi.



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