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Ghana parliament rejects change to election date

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana’s parliament failed on Thursday to secure the two-thirds majority needed to change the presidential election date from Dec. 7 to Nov. 7, sources in parliament said.

The Electoral Commission wanted to bring the vote forward to allow for a second round to be held if necessary and still have time for a smooth transition before Jan. 7, when a new government must be sworn in.

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) voted against the measure, arguing it would reduce the time available to the Electoral Commission to organize the election, witnesses said.

“The idea (for a Nov. 7 election) is good and many of us have worked hard on it. But we don’t like the shortness of the timetable for the Electoral Commission,” the NPP’s legal secretary Mike Oquaye told Reuters.

The ruling National Democratic Congress and the opposition are competing for advantage ahead of what is expected to be a tight election between President John Mahama, who is running for a second term, and opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo.

Ghana’s 2008 election went to a run-off and the NPP challenged Mahama’s victory in the 2012 election, leading to a protracted case before the Supreme Court. The case reinforced Ghana’s reputation as one of Africa’s most stable democracies.

Reporting by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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