Ghana’s Mahama Celebrates Win as Opposition Contests Vote

Ghana’s president, John Dramani Mahama, celebrated his election win as opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party said it is gathering evidence to contest the results.

Mahama of the National Democratic Congress got 50.7 percent of votes cast on Dec. 7 and 8, while Akufo-Addo took 47.7 percent, according to the Electoral Commission. Observers from the U.K.-based Commonwealth, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers described the election as credible, democratic and transparent.

“I urge everyone to take this opportunity to come together to move out of the spirit of competition and move now into the spirit of cooperation,” Mahama told cheering supporters at a rally in Accra, the capital, yesterday. “The issues and challenges that face our nation have no allegiances. They cut across lines of political affiliation, religious and ethnic background, social class and regional location.”

Mahama, 54, who came to office in July following the death of John Atta Mills, is set to face calls from Ghanaians to equitably share benefits from oil production that began in 2010 and rising output of gold. The economy expanded at the fastest pace in Africa last year at 14.4 percent. It’s projected to grow 8.2 percent this year and 7.8 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Contest Results

Voting was extended to a second day on Dec. 8 in more than 400 polling stations after biometric machines used to confirm identities of voters broke down and delays in getting election materials to centers led to long lines.

“We believe the evidence is compelling” of fraud in the vote, Nana Akomea, communications director for the NPP, said by phone today. The party has found “big discrepancies in the results from the constituencies and those announced by the Electoral Commission.”

The country’s currency, the cedi, gained less than 0.1 percent to 1.8916 a dollar by 6:01 p.m. in Accra yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield on Ghana’s $750 million of Eurobonds eased less than one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 4.97 percent.

“A long, drawn-out legal challenge to the election result, and an increasingly tense political environment, may contribute to investor nervousness,” Razia Khan, head of Africa research with Standard Chartered Bank Plc, said in an e-mailed note. “With Ghana reliant on portfolio flows to finance its twin deficits, the Ghana cedi would be vulnerable to any exit by foreign investors.”

Supreme Court

Supporters of the NPP surrounded a convoy carrying Benin President and African Union Chairman Thomas Boni Yayi who was meeting Akufo-Addo at his house in Accra yesterday. On Dec. 9, they protested at the Electoral Commission headquarters and were dispersed by police officers on horseback.

Ghana’s Supreme Court has jurisdiction over disputes with the presidential vote results, according to a document on the judiciary’s website.

The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, comprised of 4,500 people, “can confidently assure all political contestants and the public that the official results announced by the Electoral Commission accurately reflect the ballots cast by voters,” it said in a statement to reporters yesterday. All candidates should accept the results and “respect the will of the Ghanaian people.”

Deficit Widens

Ghana’s budget deficit widened to 7.3 percent of gross domestic product in the first nine months of the year from 1.9 percent a year earlier, according to the country’s central bank. By the end of the year, the gap may reach 7.5 percent, Khan said.

During the campaign, Mahama pledged to reduce the deficit to 5 percent, keep inflation below 10 percent and boost economic growth to at least 8 percent annually.

“I know that together we can change this country,” he said at the rally. “We can and we will make it better.”

The former communications minister and member of Parliament said he would more than double electricity output to 5,000 megawatts and use oil and natural gas to expand manufacturing industries.

Tullow Oil Plc (TLW) pumps crude at the Jubilee field, with production forecast to reach 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day by the end of this year, from last year’s average of 78,200, according to the company. Tullow, Anadarko Petroleum Ltd. and Eni SpA are developing more wells, while AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) are expanding their gold mines as prices for the metal rose 8.8 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ekow Dontoh in Accra at edontoh@bloomberg.net; Pauline Bax in Accra at pbax@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

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