Ghana extended its presidential election into a second day yesterday after technical glitches led to long delays in some areas in a country seeking to further burnish its democratic credentials.
Voting went smoothly on Friday in many areas, but a new biometric system requiring electronic fingerprints from voters suffered a number of breakdowns in certain districts, resulting in long lines and much frustration.
Voting materials also arrived late in some areas, causing some polling stations to open far behind schedule.
Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama is vying for a first elected term against main opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in a nation reaping the benefits of a booming economy fueled in part by a new and expanding oil industry.
The results are expected to be close in a country that has been seeking to live up to its reputation as an example of stable democracy in turbulent West Africa. Voters are also electing a 275-seat parliament.
An electoral commission statement said the directive extending voting into yesterday applied to polling stations where the biometric system had broken down or where the necessary materials arrived especially late.
It was not clear how many polling stations were affected in the country of about 24 million people, including about 14 million registered voters.
“We are talking about isolated instances,” electoral commission chairman Kwado Afari-Gyan said. “It is not a mass problem.”
Spokesmen for the two main political parties expressed support for the commission, but some voters still in line on Friday night reacted angrily.
The announcement came with counting already underway in districts where voting was completed.
Results from the elections had been expected as early as today, but it was unclear whether that timeframe would remain after the extension.
There are eight presidential candidates, which could result in a second round runoff vote on Dec. 28.
Long lines formed in many areas on Friday and a number of voters had waited all night to be able to cast ballots on Friday morning.