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Rumors of cocaine money taint Ghana vote

The West African nation's status as a drug-trafficking hub has led to allegations of political corruption ahead of Sunday's presidential vote.

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A supporter of ruling party presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo wears body paint at a campaign rally in Accra, Ghana Dec. 5. Mr. Akufo-Addo's party rebuts allegations from opposition activists that cocaine monies are funding their presidential campaign.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

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– As Ghanaians prepare to go to the polls this weekend to choose a new president, there are concerns that the enormous and growing quantities of cocaine trafficked through the country pose a threat to one of Africa's rare success stories.

The sweltering, coastal West African state has, since the 1990s, been an oasis of stability in a notoriously volatile region. While its neighbors suffered civil wars and unrest, Ghana replaced military rule with multiparty democracy, and its economy – based largely on the export of gold and cocoa – has been growing steadily in recent years, at around 6 percent annually.

Ghana might be among the best-governed states in West Africa, but according to a recent United Nations report, it's also one of the two leading shipping points for drugs trafficked between South America and Europe (the other is Guinea-Bissau). International drug enforcement officials estimate that as much as $2 billion worth of cocaine is trafficked via West Africa each year, which represents roughly a quarter of all the cocaine imported into Europe.

Officials at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime talk of West Africa as being "under attack" and facing "a crisis of epic proportions."

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