Rawlings Rides Record In Ghana Elections

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ACCRA, Ghana: Erstwhile fighter pilot and coup leader Jerry Rawlings appears headed for reelection in Ghana's Saturday elections. With 60 percent of the voting districts reporting, President Rawlings was leading with 57 percent, while John Agyekum Kufuor had 39 percent of the vote. Rawlings, who first seized power in a 1979 coup, ruled over a single-party state until winning the 1992 elections with nearly 59 percent of the vote. Voter turnout was estimated at 65 percent to 70 percent of Ghana's 9.2 million eligible voters. Despite protests of election fraud by Kufuor supporters, international observers said there was no indication of manipulation of the vote. Rawlings has been praised for launching an austerity program in the early 1980s that gave Ghana one of the most stable economies in West Africa. According to one voter, a Rawlings vote was one for continuity. Said Happy Kumah, a 30-year-old office worker: "Our democracy is so young that if you change directions now it could hurt us. So let us see if the guy can finish the job." If Ghana is viewed as a sort of oasis of stability in troubled Africa, the credit is going to the man who made the trains--and the ballot boxes--run on time.