Ghanaians elect new President

Saturday, January 3, 2009

John Atta Mills.

University of Ghana law professor John Atta Mills, age 64, was confirmed on Saturday as the winner of the runoff presidential election, the fifth in Ghana since the return to multi-party democracy in 1992.

According to Electoral Commission Chair, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Atta Mills obtained 50.23 percent of ballots cast on December 28, or 4,521,032 votes, while Nana Akufo-Addo got 49.77 percent or 4,480,446 votes. Despite the ruling party's call to boycott, the Tain local election officer also announced that Atta-Mills obtained 19,566 votes in Friday's special election there, while Nana Akufo-Addo had only 2,053 ballots.

In the parliamentary elections, Atta Mills’s NDC won 114 seats to the NPP’s 107. Minor parties and independent candidates won seven seats while two are still being contested.

President John Kufuor appealed for sobriety and urged the candidates to accept the official result.

A presidential election was held in Ghana on 7 December 2008, at the same time as a parliamentary election. Eight candidates contested the first round of voting.

Ghana's electoral commission announced on December 10 that a run-off election must be held on 28 December, 2008 for the Ghanaian presidency. The commission said that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo won 49.13% of the vote, slightly more than the other main candidate, John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who obtained 47.92%. However, neither candidate reached the 50% mark needed to declare an outright winner to succeed President John Kufuor, who will step down after two terms.

Turnout on election day was very high. Out of some 8.6 million votes cast, more than 200,000, or 2.4% of the full total, were rejected. Overall voter turnout in the election was 69.52%.

The second round was to be rerun on 2 January 2009 in the Tain District due to ballot papers irregularities. As the number of voters in Tain, which has a constituency of about 53,000 eligible voters, exceeded Atta Mills' margin of victory without the results, the Election Commission stated it would not announce Atta Mills as the winner until after the election rerun in Tain.

The NPP sought to delay voting in Tain as it claimed that "the atmosphere in the rural district was not conducive to a free and fair election", but the court said it would only hear the case on January 5, denying the NPP an injunction. The NPP then proceeded to call for a voting boycott, for which it was criticized by civil groups.

On December 21, 2006, former Vice-President John Atta-Mills, who unsuccessfully ran as the National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate in 2000 and 2004, was overwhelmingly elected by NDC as its candidate for the 2008 presidential election.

Former Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was elected as the 2008 presidential candidate of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) at a party congress on December 23, 2007. Although he fell short of the required 50%, the second-place candidate, John Alan Kyeremanten, conceded defeat and backed Akufo-Addo.