John Dramani Mahama declared winner of Ghana poll
The leading opposition party alleges it has evidence of vote rigging in knife-edge election
President John Dramani Mahama has been declared the winner of a closely fought poll, but the opposition is claiming fraud in a nation that is seen as a model of African democracy.
The electoral commission announced the result on Sunday after a day of twists and turns linked to the vote on Friday and Saturday, with the stakes especially high in a country with a booming economy fuelled partly by newly discovered oil.
Even before the declaration, results compiled by media had pointed to a Mahama win, leading the opposition to strongly reject them, alleging fraud and claiming it had evidence that its candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, was the real winner.
According to the electoral commission, Mahama won with 50.70 per cent of the votes cast, compared to Akufo-Addo's 47.74 per cent. With eight candidates in the race, more than 50 per cent was needed to avoid a second-round run-off.
"I call on all leaders of all political parties to respect the voice of the people," Mahama said in a victory speech in which he also urged restraint in celebrations and said he was overwhelmed. "The voice of the people is the voice of God."
Akufo-Addo's New Patriotic Party (NPP) said in a statement that the results announced "by the evidence do not reflect the mandate of the required majority of the Ghanaian electorate".
Party officials would meet today to decide the way forward, it said.
Turnout was put at more than 79 per cent. Observers from the Commonwealth, the Ecowas West African bloc and local group Codeo all said the vote appeared peaceful and transparent.
The opposition however issued a scathing statement even before the official results were announced.
"Indeed, we have enough concrete evidence to show that the 2012 presidential election was won by our candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo," it said.
"We have noticed a pattern of fraud, where substantial numbers of votes are either added to the NDC (National Democratic Congress) candidate or subtracted from the NPP presidential candidate."
It demanded an audit of collated vote figures as well as of data from the biometric verification machines used in the election.
In reaction to the opposition claims and before the results announcement, a crowd of about 300 NPP supporters had gathered near the electoral commission.
Security forces fired tear gas at one point in an apparent bid to move them back.
Mahama, 54, previously vice-president, has been head of state only since July following the death of his predecessor John Atta Mills.