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Ghana rivals hold final rallies

Political parties in Ghana are to hold their final rallies ahead of Sunday's presidential and parliamentary polls.

The main contenders for the presidency are Nana Akufo-Addo for the ruling NPP party and John Atta Mills for the main opposition NDC.

Whoever wins will be in power when money starts coming in from the oil discovered off Ghana's coast.

The race is seen as being close and many Ghanaians expect it to go to a second round run-off on 28 December.

To win, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the votes.

President John Kufuor is to step down in January after serving two terms in office, the maximum he is allowed by the constitution.

Giant billboards

There are gigantic billboards throughout Accra, the capital, trumpeting the achievements and promises of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Mr Akufo-Addo.

Some declare that the British-trained lawyer is "The Best Man for Ghana" and he "believes in Ghana" .

Posters for his rival, John Atta Mills, say he is a president "you can trust" and "a better man for Ghana".

Mr Atta Mills, a former vice-president, has twice before stood for election and lost both times.

Mr Atta Mills represents the National Democratic Congress (NDC), founded by Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, who took power in a coup and was president for nearly 20 years.

Paa Kwesi Nduom is standing for the Convention People's Party (CPP), the party of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, seen as the founding father of African independence.

Success story?

Correspondents say that since the early 1990s, democratic and economic reforms have underlined Ghana's status as a success story in the region, as neighbouring Ivory Coast, once perceived as an "African miracle" descended into war.

The world's second-biggest cocoa producer and Africa's biggest gold exporter after South Africa, Ghana is now set to profit from the discovery of oil off its shores.

But oil wealth has not benefited many of Africa's poor and many in Ghana fear the discovery will not transform its economy, but exacerbate corruption.

Uneven wealth

Plenty of new buildings are going up in Accra, including banks and hotels.

Its stock exchange was one of the top-performing markets this year and economic growth is forecast at 6.5% for 2008.

But for many, the fruits of this growth remain elusive.

In Accra, hawkers ply their trade on the city's busy roads, with many of its dusty streets are lined with open sewers.

Much of the development has been concentrated in the south, with the the country's north far poorer.

The uneven spread of wealth is one of the reasons why many analysts say Sunday's election is too close to call, and a run-off is likely.

Source of this news is from bbc website

Posted on Friday 5th December 2008

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