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22 May 2024

Atta-Mills strengthens lead in final Ghana poll count

National Democratic Congress supporters gather outside the electoral commission building to wait for election results to be announced in Accra, Ghana. (AP)


John Atta-Mills' bid to become the next leader of Ghana strengthened on Saturday after provisional results put him well ahead of his rival in the last constituency to vote in a presidential run-off election.

In a declaration to local news media, a returning officer in the farming district of Tain said Atta-Mills, 64, had garnered 19,566 ballots in Friday's voting there – well ahead of Nana Akufo-Addo with 2,053 ballots.

Akufo-Addo, also 64, had won an inconclusive first round of nation-wide voting on December 7, and his governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) had called on supporters to boycott the voting in Tain.

Electoral commission chief Kwado Afari-Gyan was to due to announce the winner of the race of succeed President John Kufuor – who is stepping down after serving a maximum two terms – at 11.00am on Saturday.

In prior voting in Ghana's 229 other constituencies, Mills – representing the opposition National Democratic Congress – led Akfuo-Addo by around 23,000 votes.

Stakes have been high in the race to choose the man who will be governing Ghana – known as the Gold Coast before independence from Britain in 1957 – when it starts pumping oil in 2010.

The election is the fifth in Ghana – whose best-known citizen internationally is Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general – since the return to multi-party democracy in 1992.

Both parties have alleged voting irregularities in each other's strongholds.