Ghana opposition urges voter support, seeks to turn economy around

Ghanaian presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) waves during his last rally at a trade fair in Accra December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
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By Kwasi Kpodo

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s main opposition leader on Sunday called on voters to rally behind him, saying he has the credentials to quickly turn the economy around and is not looking to amass personal wealth.

Nana Akufo-Addo told flag-waving supporters at a rally ahead of Wednesday’s polls that President John Mahama’s government has mismanaged the economy and unleashed hardship on the people, adding that retaining it would constitute a threat to the nation’s future.

Mahama is seeking a second and final four-year term in what is expected to be a close race between him and Akufo-Addo. Voters will also be choosing members of parliament for 275 constituencies.

Ghana, which exports cocoa, gold and oil is currently following a three-year aid deal with the International Monetary Fund to restore economic balance to an economy dogged by public debt, deficits and high interest rates.

“I am not seeking your mandate to come and amass personal wealth. I am not coming to pocket (state) money. Rather, we’re coming to work for development and to reverse our privation by creating jobs and wealth for our people,” said Akufo-Addo, 72 who lost narrowly to President John Mahama in 2012.

More than 5,000 supporters of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), blew vuvuzelas, beat drums and danced in a carnival atmosphere to blaring hip life music at the forecourt of the International Trade Fair Centre in the capital, Accra.

Two huge elephant effigies draped in the NPP’s red, white and blue colours towered over the revellers.

Many say they believed Akufo-Addo will deliver on his campaign promises, which include setting up a factory in each of the 110 districts and giving every constituency the equivalent of $1 million a year if he wins power.

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“I see the commitment in him and he’s got the integrity to fight corruption, ease our economic hardship and give us our basic needs,” said 61 year-old retire university lecturer Kwesi Addai-Donkor who said improving health insurance mattered to him most.

Mahama, who has been showcasing scores of infrastructure projects as proof of development in his last four years, said he needed a second term to consolidate the gains and create jobs.

He will end his campaign with a similar rally on Monday, ruling party officials say.

Wednesday’s vote will be the sixth consecutive democratic elections since former military ruler Jerry Rawlings introduced multiparty politics in 1992.

(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; editing by Diane Craft)

 

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