Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Ghana extends voting in some areas after glitches, delays

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 2:29 AM EST, Sat December 8, 2012
Thousands converged on Ghana's capital as the country's two main political parties held final rallies ahead of Friday's election.
Thousands converged on Ghana's capital as the country's two main political parties held final rallies ahead of Friday's election.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The incumbent president is facing off with the son of a former leader
  • He is one of eight presidential contenders
  • A winner is expected to be declared within days
  • Hundreds of candidates are also vying for 275 parliamentary seats

(CNN) -- Ghana extended voting into a second day Saturday in areas where election materials arrived late or glitches with a new biometric identification system caused delays.

There were reported cases of biometric machines malfunctioning or failing to recognize voters' fingerprints in the pivotal presidential and parliamentary election, officials said.

In areas where voting was not affected, counting was under way. It was not immediately clear how many of the total 26,000 polling stations experienced glitches.

Citizens of the West African nation started voting Friday in a general election that pits the incumbent against the son of a former president in one of Africa's most stable democracies.

In addition to the presidential election, hundreds of candidates vied for 275 parliamentary seats.

Incumbent leader John Dramani Mahama, a former vice president who took over after his predecessor died this year, is one of eight contenders vying for the top position.

Opinion: What Ghana can teach the rest of Africa about democracy

The pool of candidates includes opposition frontrunner Nana Akufo-Addo, the son of a former president.

If no presidential candidate wins a majority in the first round, a runoff will be held later this month.

Election fever was high Friday, with lines snaking around polling stations.

"People started lining up at 5 p.m. and spent the night at the polling stations," said Delalorm Sesi Semabia, 25, an oil company employee who lives in the capital, Accra.

"People are enthusiastic," he said. "This particular election is significant because candidates had debates on air and people heard their thoughts on issues. It made a huge difference, it created more passion."

Semabia said a lot of young voters were born in the post-coup times, and want the democracy trajectory to continue.

"We have a passion for our country because we only have one Ghana," he said. "We don't think of elections as an end-all game. We think of it as an opportunity to progress."

The electoral commission initially said it expected to declare the winner within 72 hours after polls close Friday. It was not clear whether the voting extension would delay that announcement.

Passions are running high, and the president urged candidates to ensure that their supporters avoid incitement.

"Ghana has organized five previous successful elections, and there should not be any reason why this year's election should not be successful," the president said in a statement.

The nation is one of Africa's fastest-growing economies. It is the world's second-largest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast and the continent's biggest gold miner after South Africa, according to the United Nations.

International leaders hail Ghana as a success story in a region beleaguered with civil wars and coups, with U.S. President Barack Obama visiting in 2009 in his first presidential trip to Sub-Saharan Africa.

At the time, Obama bypassed his father's native Kenya and opted for Ghana, describing it as a model of peace and democracy in the continent.

"There's sometimes a tendency to focus on the challenges that exist in Africa," Obama said this year. "But I think it's important for us to also focus on the good news that's coming out of Africa, and I think Ghana continues to be a good-news story."

But critics say that despite the rich resources that bring billions of dollars annually, the wealth is not trickling down to the rural poor who live on the land where the gold is mined.

Ghana was among the first African countries to gain independence from the British, breaking loose in 1957. It endured a series of coups before Lt. Jerry Rawlings took power in 1981. A decade later, it transitioned to a stable democracy with multiparty elections.

Unlike its neighbors, including Ivory Coast, Ghana has held successful elections and power transfers since 1992 without descending into bloody chaos.

CNN's Dana Ford and Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT