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Ghana's 2012 election goes peacefully but with verification challenges


ACCRA, (Xinhua): Polling in Ghana's 2012 elections mostly came to an end on Friday, with challenges arising from malfunctioning biometric verification machines accentuated across the country.

Polling opened late in some places across the country resulting in late voting at many polling stations with the Electoral Commission (EC) adjourning elections to Saturday at polling stations where the biometric machines broke down.

In whole, Friday's polls had been smooth and people have high expectations for peace and wished for better life in future.

Xinhua's interaction with voters at various polling stations across the capital indicated that many of the electorates who had queued as early as 21:00 local time on Thursday for Friday's polling exercise, said there was the need for political stability.

Agnes Tettey, 39, and a businessman, Isaac Kwofie, said their expectations were to see a peaceful poll at the end of the day, for the country to move on in unity.

"I am looking at the party that can promote peace in Ghana," Kwofie told Xinhua.

Ghana was regarded to be leading democracy model as the western African country has never entrapped with instability during power transition since 1992.

John Larvie, Coordinator for the domestic observer group, Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), confirmed that the polls had generally been smooth according to their observation.

But there still some challenges arise across the country. Reports said voters in some part of the western African country were not able to verify their biometric status on the machines.

In Northern Region, the bio-data of mostly peasant farmers could not be verified by the machines at some polling stations in the Sagnarigu Constituency near Tamale, 658 km north of Accra.

In the Ashanti Region, some voters washed their palms with soft drinks such as Coca Cola or Sprite or substances containing mentholated spirit to make their fingers accessible by the verification machine.

John Larvie was optimistic that the country's electoral body would address the challenge as early as possible.

No report of violence and electoral malpractices has so far been recorded. There was heavy deployment of security across the country for the elections, as the Inspector General of Police (IGP) , Paul Tawiah Quaye, announced here on Thursday of over 41,000 security personnel across the country ahead of Ghana's general elections on Friday.

Vote counting began immediately at polling stations that have had no hitches, with preliminary results suggesting a knife-edge process of result declaration for Ghanaians until final results are out, more so when part of the elections would be run on Saturday.

Other international observer groups such as the African Union (AU), ECOWAS, the Commonwealth, all sent their missions to observe the Ghanaian polls.

The election, run in a total of 26,000 polling stations according to the government of Ghana cost the nation a total of 286 million Ghana Cedis or 152 million U.S. dollars.

A total of 14.4 million eligible voters were expected to have voted to choose a president among eight candidates and 275-members parliament from 14 registered political parties' 1,332 candidates.

The Presidential race, as has been the case in times past, is a straight fight between the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Akufo-Addo and the candidate for National Democratic Congress (NDC), incumbent President Mahama.

In 2008 elections, 1,060 parliamentary candidates contested for the then 230 seats. In the current Parliament, the NDC has 116 seats, while the NPP occupied 107.

While parliamentary elections are decided on simple majority, the presidential one must win at least 50 percent plus to be declared as President.

Editor: Hou Qiang

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