December 7, 2016 / 1:50 PM / 8 months ago

FACTBOX-Main contenders in Ghana's presidential election

3 Min Read

ACCRA, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Ghana is holding presidential and parliamentary elections on Wednesday. Here are brief biographies of the two main candidates:

President John Mahama, National Democratic Congress

John Mahama's first term has been marked by a sharp slowdown in economic growth, caused by spiking inflation, an unexpectedly high budget deficit and a plunge in global prices for gold and cocoa.

Mahama's opponents say his government mismanaged the economy, wasting revenues from Ghana's natural resources. He says Ghana's outlook is strong thanks to reforms to restore the fiscal balance and new oil fields that will come onstream soon.

In the run-up to the election he has barnstormed the country opening hospitals, roads, bridges and even a new stock exchange.

Mahama, 58, bills himself as a social democrat. He was vice president but came to power in July 2012 when President John Atta Mills died. That December, Mahama narrowly won a four-year term in an election subjected to an eight-month court challenge.

His government received credit for supporting international efforts to end an Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia that peaked in 2014 and killed more than 11,300 people.

Mahama is a Christian from the town of Bole in the mainly-Muslim north of the country. He earned a post-graduate degree in social psychology at the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow. He has also served as minister of communications.

Nana Akufo-Addo, New Patriotic Party

Opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo, 72, narrowly lost elections in 2008 and 2012 and some in his party say 2016 is his last chance to win the presidency.

He pledges to turn around the economy quickly, creating jobs and wealth. His campaign promises include giving each of Ghana's 275 constituencies $1 million a year if he wins power - a $1 billion pledge.

Akufo-Addo has raised concerns over the voter register after glitches with last week's early voting.

He qualified as a barrister in the UK and has had a long legal career spanning Britain, France and Ghana, where he championed human rights law and won credit for leading efforts to decriminalise libel.

He served as foreign minister and attorney general in the government of President John Kufuor. Akufo-Addo bills himself as a conservative and a believer in free-market economics.

Akufo-Addo's late father was deposed as president in a coup in 1972. Akufo-Addo is a member of a royal family from Akyem in Eastern Region that is part of a system of traditional chiefs that remains important in Ghanaian society. (Writing by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Richard Lough)

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