The stage is set for Ghana?s Presidential and parliamentary elections that are scheduled to hold across the West African country this week precisely this Friday 7th December 2012. Eight candidates are contesting for the country?s number one job with over 13million biometric registered voters who would also decide the fate of the 275 candidates seek to be elected into the 230 parliamentary seats ready to be grabbed.

The names of the Presidential candidates and their parties are: John Dramani Mahama, the former Vice President who is now President following the death of then President John Atta Mills on 24th July this year. Mahama, a Christian is the candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC); Hassan Ayariga, a Muslim candidate of the Muslim Peoples National Convention; Papa Kewsi Nduom of Catholic Progressive Peoples Party; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Ado of the New Patriotic Party who is a Christian; Michael Abu Sakara Foster of the Christian Convention Peoples Party, a Christian; Akwasi Addai Odike of the United Front Party (Christian); Jacob Ossei Yeboah a Christian running as an independent candidate and Herbert Lartey of the Consolidated Popular Party, himself a Christian.

This month?s election would be the sixth uninterrupted general elections in Ghana with three peaceful change of power in the country since 1992.?Ghana?s elections have been adjudged to be relatively credible when compared to the ones in some other African countries.

According to the electoral laws of Ghana, there would be a run-off election if none of the candidates receives a majority 50 percent plus one vote at the first ballot. The run- off would hold on 28th December in which a clear winner must emerge. For the parliamentary elections, a candidate is expected to win a majority of the total votes cast in his constituency to emerge winner.

Already an ECOWAS Observer Mission for the election led by Nigeria?s former President is leading the group made up of 250 members.

A statement from the Mission today said Chief Obasanjo has expressed optimism at the success of next Friday?s presidential and legislative polls in the West African state of Ghana based on satisfactory preparations as well as Ghana?s proven democratic credentials.

The statement quoted Obasanjo as saying on arrival in Accra, the country?s capital that ?We are here as witnesses to what promises to be peaceful, transparent, credible, free and fair elections,? adding that given Ghana?s reputable history, the polls would not be an exception.

He commended Ghanaians in general and all the stakeholders, including the national electoral commission, and especially the political parties and their leaders for signing up to a peaceful and violence-free electoral process, towards strengthening and deepening the democratic culture in the country and the West African region.

The ECOWAS Observation team, which comprises of representatives of various segments of the West African society, is in Ghana within the context of the region?s instrument for provision of support to Member States holding elections. Besides, the statement added that the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadr? D?sir? Ou?draogo, will also be in the country to provide additional support to the Mission and to express ECOWAS? solidarity with the Government and people of Ghana during the elections.

On his part, the ECOWAS Director of Political Affairs, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, who was part of the team that received Chief Obasanjo, explained that Accra would serve as the headquarters and Situation Room for the ECOWAS Mission, with three sub- stations in Kumasi, Tamale and Bolgatanga, from where the regional observers will be deployed to all the 10 administrative regions of Ghana to monitor the conduct of the polls, it stated. He noted also that ECOWAS observers will meet with political party leaders and other stakeholders in the country, with a view to ensuring a peaceful environment for the conduct of the polls.

The statement recalls that an ECOWAS assessment mission was in Ghana last October to review preparations for the elections during which the mission interacted with various stakeholders, including representatives of political parties, security agencies, civil society organizations, the national electoral commission, and other stakeholders to discuss their perspectives on the preparations for the elections.

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