From Africa to Arctic Voters Cast Ballots


Ghana's Rawlings takes early lead

Accra's Independence Square looked like a big drive-in movie theater yesterday morning as people stood on the hoods of cars, craning their necks to see the results from Ghana's first presidential election in 13 years - written in chalk on four-story-high scoreboards.

Initial returns showed that the country's military leader, Jerry Rawlings, a former fighter pilot, gained almost 54 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. With 75 of 200 constituencies counted, Mr. Rawlings's leading challenger, history professor Albert Adu Boahen, candidate of the New Patriotic Party, had 36.1 percent.

Rawlings, who seized power in a 1981 coup, ran against four candidates in Tuesday's election, which is to bring in civilian rule in January. He resigned from the Ghana Armed Forces in September in order to be eligible as a civilian candidate.

Unlike many other African countries making the transition to democratic rule, Ghana has had a relatively peaceful run-up to elections. Election monitors from the Carter Center in Atlanta said the voting went smoothly and there were no signs of fraud.

Rawlings was a vocal critic of Western imperialism, but nevertheless imposed austerity measures demanded by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. These are credited with making the country a model of economic growth on the continent, averaging 5 percent a year.

But critics say Rawlings ran roughshod over opposition to implement the measures, which included laying off thousands of government workers and devaluing the national currency. Inuit vote on pact

Canada's Inuit people began voting Tuesday on an agreement that would make them the world's largest private landowners.

The agreement gives the Inuit clear title to 135,000 square miles of land, an area about half the size of the province of Alberta, and allows them to hunt, fish, and trap over nearly 850,000 square miles of tundra and ice - about one-fifth of Canada's land mass.

"I think the Guinness Book of Records will have to be redone. We will be the largest private landowner in the world," said Inuit leader Jack Kupeuna in an interview from the Northwest Territories capital of Yellowknife.

Inuit leader James Eetoolook predicted the pact "will easily pass." But native translator Saali Peter, a member of the Iqaluit No Committee, said the agreement could well be rejected because people were worried about what it really meant.

He said that, in exchange for uncertain political control over the new territory, the Inuit would be giving up title to more than 80 percent of their traditional lands. Complete voting results will not be known until next week.

Eighty percent of the 22,000 residents of the new territory, to be called Nunavut or "Our land," are Inuit living above the timberline. Ratification by Canada's Parliament is needed before the territory finally comes into existence in 1999. `Secret weapon' deployed, Kenya gears for ballot

Kenya faces six weeks of stormy political campaigning ahead of the first multiparty elections in more than 25 years, to be held Dec. 7.

Eleven political parties prepared to enter the fray after President Daniel arap Moi set the date Tuesday, ending months of speculation about when it might be. Cars honked their horns in the streets of the capital, Nairobi, after the poll was announced.

Mr. Moi, in power for 14 years, said the poll date was his "secret weapon." He exudes confidence he can win against the opposition he reluctantly unbanned last December in response to mounting pressure from Western donors and government critics.

Many people see Moi and his Kenya African National Union as a safe option as opposition parties squabble among themselves and split along tribal lines.

Until last year, Moi refused to allow multiparty politics, arguing it would cause ethnic chaos. He now says his party unites all of the country's roughly 35 tribes.

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