Polling stations have opened in Ghana’s presidential and parliamentary elections as voters elect a new president and 275 members of Parliament.
The polls, which started at 7am local time and expected to close at 5pm with more than 17 million Ghanaians eligible to vote in the 38 polling stations across the country, is being keenly contested between incumbent President, Nana Akufo-Addo and longstanding opponent and former president, John Mahama.
Professor Nana Akufo-Ado, 76, is seeking re-election for a second term and faces a challenge from former president, John Mahama.
To ensure a peaceful conduct of the electioneering process, both candidates signed a symbolic peace pact ahead of the polls.
John Mahama, 62, running for president under the umbrella of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) noted during an address that recent events under the current administration have given many anxious moments of doubts about it’s ability to deliver a peaceful and violent free elections.
Professor Akufo-Addo in a televised broadcast on Sunday evening said his administration believes in free and fair elections and that he is willing to accept the verdict of the people of Ghana.
“Above all, I pledge to the peace, unity and safety of Ghana which is our primary consideration” He said.
In ensuring a peaceful election process, before traditional and religious leaders as well as international observers including the United Nations, the two rivals signed a peace- pact.
According to reports, security was said to be tight in the capital city, Accra with over 63,000 military and paramilitary officers deployed to maintain peace during the elections in many polling stations with voters strictly adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.
Prominent amongst the key issues in the elections are those of unemployment, infrastructure, education and health.
A race between old rivals
Akufo-Adoo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have faced each other at the polls three times signing peaceful agreement in all three elections.
The incumbent has been scored excellently for his management of the pandemic which rated Ghana as one of the best in Africa in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nana Akufo-Adoo who is said to be fighting the biggest battle of his political career with losing the elections not being an option believes he has delivered in the job he was given for four years and is still the man for the job.
During campaigns, he has taken his plea not only to his supporters but to all members of all political parties urging everyone regardless of political affiliation to give him a chance.
Former president, John Dramani Mahama, who is Akufo-Addo’s biggest contender is capitalizing on widespread discontent of allegations of corruption in the current government.
Mahama believes his campaign has been received with good enthusiasm noting that he has a lot of young people on his side who do not see a good future with this present government and are willing to make a change by supporting his agenda to modernise the nation.
Political analysts say there is little difference between the two dominant parties which have been rotating power among themselves for the last 28 years since Ghana became a democracy.
Even with the 10 other candidates on the ballot, voters are aware that the race will be between the two arch rivals and that the election will be squarely what voters think about corruption, the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact as well as unemployment and voter turnout.
A candidate must score more than 50 percent of the vote to win in the first round to avoid a runoff.