Voters in Ghana are casting their ballots in presidential and parliamentary elections amid an economic downturn in the West African country. Polling stations opened at 0700 GMT and will close at 1700 GMT, with some 15 million people eligible to vote for president and parliament members for the next four years. In the presidential election, incumbent President John Mahama competes with seven candidates, the most serious rival being main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo.
The 57-year-old Mahama is now running for a second term. Akufo-Addo, a former foreign minister, has campaigned twice for the post of president, in 2008 and 2012. Akufo-Addo has promised free high-school education. The election results are expected within three days; and if neither of the two main candidates secures more than 50 percent of the votes, a run-off will be held later in December.
The elections come a week after all candidates signed a pact pledging to keep the process peaceful. However, clashes erupted on Monday in the small northern town of Chereponi, leaving an opposition supporter dead. Ghana’s economy has endured a growing public deficit, high inflation, and a weakening currency since 2013, forcing the West African country to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).