Ghana faces a presidential run-off after the ruling party's candidate came out on top in the first round but failed to knock his main challenger out of the contest, poll results showed Wednesday.
Nana Akufo-Addo from the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) won 49.13 percent of the vote, ahead of John Atta-Mills of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) with 47.92 percent, the electoral commission said.
With no candidate achieving the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win outright, a second round poll will take place on December 28 between the two front-runners.
|Chairman of the electoral commission Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan announces the final results of the presidential elections at the commission's headquaters in Accra|
Turnout in Sunday's election was 69.52 percent, electoral commission chief Kwado Afari Gyan said.
He said the results announced were based on 229 out of the country's 230 constituencies. Ballot boxes in the 230th constituency had been tampered with, he added, without giving further details.
Gyan did not release legislative results saying these had been declared at constituency level.
Ghana voted on Sunday to pick a new president and a legislature, as President John Kufuor completes his second four-year term, the maximum allowed in this west African nation praised as a beacon of stable democracy in Africa.
The vote marks the second time a democratically-elected leader in Ghana hands over power to another.
Akufo-Addo said he was confident he would take the election in the second and decisive round.
"I am confident I will win the second round. I am leading and I just need a little to go over the top, my opponent needs much more. I believe the vote out there is mine," he told AFP.
"The Ghanaian people have maintained their reputation and stability of the country has been guaranteed again. I think that we have given an example to the world, that which shows that there are other African countries, other than the examples of Kenya and Zimbabwe," he added.
His rival, Atta-Mills who is having his third bid at the country's top job, also said he would romp to victory.
"I am going to the next page of the election, with all the confidence that I am going to win and it's going to be a victory for Ghana," said Mills.
"My message of change has resonated ...and the electorate can't fail us," he told reporters commending the electoral commission for holding peaceful elections.
Security was tight around the election commission headquarters, with an armoured personnel carrier and large numbers of police and military in attendance.
The NDC has accused the ruling NPP of trying to rig the election with the help of the country's security forces.
Both the NPP and the military denied the allegations.
Despite opposition claims of vote rigging, independent local and international observers called Sunday's vote open, credible, peaceful and orderly.
"Observers have said Ghana could provide a shining example to the rest of Africa after the crises that followed recent elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya.
The former British colony was plagued by coups until the return to multi-party democracy in 1992.
Once economically stagnant, Ghana has enjoyed steady growth in recent years and the next president will be able to tap into oil revenues when the country starts in 2010 pumping crude offshore near the port of Takoradi.
Trailing a very distant third in the presidential vote was businessman Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention People's Party (CPP) with 1.3 percent of the ballots.