Polls are closed in Ghana after large numbers turned out to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. President John Kufour is stepping down after serving the maximum two terms. Observers say the result hangs in the balance. Kufour is backing his New Patriotic Party’s chosen successor Nana Akufo-Addo, a British trained lawyer and son of a former president.
His closest rival is opposition leader John Atta Mills of the centre left National Democratic Congress, who served as vice-president under Ghana’s former leader Jerry Rawlings. A successful vote will be seen as boost for Africa after electoral bloodshed in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.
The discovery of off-shore oil, which is expected to bring in 120,000 barrels a day by late 2010, has heightened international interest in the election. Under Kufour the country has seen its economy grow by five percent annually in recent years, however, the global financial turmoil means a difficult 2009.