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General News Thu, 1 Jan 2009

NPP says court order stops Tain vote

... Afari-Gyan knows nothing about it
... CDD deeply disturbed by NPP's 'logoligi'
... Tain runs out of food & water

Ghana's ruling party says it has won a court order stopping one last constituency from voting Friday in the country's tight presidential election, but the election organisers insisted it would go ahead.

"The court granted the order" to stop the vote from taking place, Arthur Kennedy of the New Patriotic Front (NPP) told AFP.

"We think the security situation on the ground is not conducive for a free and fair election. There is a lot of tension there," he said referring to the situation in the Tain constituency.

But the official election organisers said Friday's vote would go ahead.

Asked about the court order, electoral commission chief Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, said late Thursday: "I am not aware of that. As far as I'm concerned the election in Tain will take place as planned."

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He refused to discuss the hypothesis of what would happen were he served with an order preventing the voting from going ahead and said he would release the results of the Tain vote as soon as the results came in.

Tain, which measures the equivalent of just 40 miles (65 kilometres) up and across, is the last of Ghana's 230 constituencies to vote.

Problems with distributing ballot papers had halted their participation in Sunday's runoff poll.

Police and military were deployed throughout the western pocket of land, which holds just over 50,000 eligible voters.

Partial election results from 229 constituencies have shown opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate John Atta-Mills holding a thin lead of around 23,000 votes over his ruling party rival Nana Akufo-Addo.

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NDC campaign coordinator Alex Segbefia said the party had not heard anything about the vote being cancelled.

"As far as the NDC is concerned we are planning for the election tomorrow," he told AFP.

Earlier Thursday, Ghana's Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), a pro-democracy NGO, said it was "deeply disturbed by the NPP's attempt to stall the transition through legal action.

"While this is within the party's right, even a legal victory would not overturn the political and electoral mandate of the December 28 vote," CDD's director Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi said.

He was speaking before the NPP said it had won its court bid.

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"The best thing now for Ghana's democratic credentials - and for the NPP's credibility - would be for the party to allow the democratic process to move forward and be prepared to concede defeat after the Tain election," he said.

Earlier Thursday, the NPP had sought an injunction to stop the electoral commission from announcing poll results before investigating what the NPP alleged were irregularities in Sunday's vote in an NDC stronghold.

Accra High Court judge Edward Amoako Asante adjourned Thursday's hearing into that case to Monday to allow the NPP to serve a notice of the motion to the electoral commission and the NDC.

Observers and analysts say that in the absence of a legal order, there is nothing to stop Afari-Gyan from declaring a winner when all the returns are in.

"He is not bound by anything because the court has not issued an order to restrain him from publishing the results," said Nana Oye Lithur, a local lawyer and rights campaigner.

Thousands of activists from both parties thronged the towns and villages of Tain, which by Thursday night had run out of food and drinking water.

Source: AFP