Ghana’s Mahama Holds Lead as Voters Await Commission
Ghana’s leader, John Dramani Mahama, maintained a lead after Dec. 7 presidential and parliamentary elections as the main opposition in West Africa’s second-biggest economy raised concern about some of the provisional figures.
“We will all await peacefully the Electoral Commission’s verdict and we will abide by whatever the Electoral Commission says,” Mahama, 54, told reporters at his home in Accra, the capital, following a meeting with Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian president and head of observer missions sent to Ghana by the African Union and Economic Community of West African States.
Mahama led with 50.7 percent of votes from 269 of the country’s 275 constituencies, according to closely held broadcaster Joy FM, which projected that he would win the election. Nana Akufo-Addo, the main opposition candidate, had 47.8 percent, the figures showed. The commission’s website showed Akufo-Addo leading with 51 percent of ballots from 117 constituencies, and Mahama taking 47.8 percent.
The winner will face mounting calls from Ghanaians to spread wealth from one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, led by the start of oil exports in 2010 and rising gold production. Growth is forecast to increase by 8.2 percent this year and 7.8 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party questioned what it said where discrepancies between figures counted at polling centers and at regional collation areas and asked the Electoral Commission to conduct an audit before releasing official data.
“We call upon our party members and the general public to ignore the tainted provisional results announced in the mass media,” Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, chairman of the party, told reporters in Accra today. “These results cannot be forced down the throats of the people of Ghana, as this would be very subversive of their constitutional right to determine who leads them.”
About half an hour later, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, general secretary of Mahama’s National Democratic Congress party, told reporters they have “confidence in the resilience and truthfulness” of the commission. “If anybody has a problem with mathematics that should not be visited on the nation.”
Security officers guarding the agency’s office in Accra blocked a group of NPP demonstrators as they approached the building just before 4 p.m. In their statements, both Obetesbi- Lamptey and Nketia called on supporters to remain calm.
“The commission will not hesitate to investigate any petition immediately,” Christian Owusu-Pare, the commission’s spokesman, said by phone. “If they are not happy or satisfied with any result declared, they have another option to seek redress in court.”
Balloting stretched into yesterday at more than 400 stations after delays in delivery of election materials and breakdowns in biometric equipment used to verify identities of voters.
There was a high voter turnout and the process was largely peaceful, Pakalitha Mosisili, former Lesotho prime minister and head of the U.K.-based Commonwealth’s observer group, told reporters today. “We urge all parties to remain constructively engaged, await the outcome and use official channels in case of any complaints,” he said.
Abena Takyi, a 30-year-old supermarket sales assistant who said she voted for Mahama, listened closely to her radio for results today.
“I want Afari-Gyan to declare Mahama the winner so I can feel free and get on with my life,” she said. “I can’t go to church because I fear I may miss something.”
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