The incumbent Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo has held on to power following the release of official results. Tensions are rising in the normally peaceful country as his opponent calls foul play.
The Ghanaian electoral commission on Wednesday declared incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo the winner of the country's presidential election.
The 76-year-old Akufo-Addo from the center-right New Patriotic Party (NPP) beat his opponent and predecessor John Dramani Mahama of the center-left National Democratic Congress (NDC) with 51.59% of the vote. It is expected that this will be his second and final term in accordance with the Ghanaian constitution.
More than 13 million ballots were cast out of a total electorate of 17 million and across 38,000 polling stations throughout the country. Voters also chose 275 lawmakers for the national parliament.
Five people were killed in election violence. Otherwise, Ghana's poll on Monday was carried out largely peacefully — a regular achievement for the West African country unlike for some of its neighbors that have seen violence following recent elections — although the process was mired by accusations of fraud before the official results were released.
Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana Jean Adukwei Mensa praised election workers for operating the polls smoothly, and openly, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The NDC rejected the results of the election and said they planned to appeal the electoral commission's decision, Haruna Iddrisu an MP for the party told AFP.
The results of one constituency remained disputed, however Mensa said that even if all remaining votes went for Mahama, it still would not change the overall outcome.
Long-awaited results, but carefully counted
The electoral commission took several days to tally up the votes and had urged for patience while they were "working around the clock."
Around 12,000 observers were present for polling day and reported only a handful of incidences of intimidation. "While there were some challenges, these challenges were isolated and did not undermine the process's overall credibility," a coalition of observers said on Tuesday.
Ghana has successfully carried out democratic transfers of power for almost two decades and stands in contrast to neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone where violence disrupted recent electoral processes.
The two leading candidates signed a symbolic agreement on Friday to resolve any disputes in the courts and to avoid possible violence amid the tensions of the close contest and the country's first economic contraction in decades.
Over 60,000 security personnel had been stationed at polling stations to maintain order.
Accusations of fraud
Tensions rose on Tuesday evening as the contesting Mahama warned his opponent not to "steal" the election, accusing the sitting president of using the military to intimidate voters.
"You cannot use the military to try and overturn some of the results in constituencies that we have won. We will resist any attempts to subvert the sovereign will of the Ghanaian people," Mahama said at a press conference in the capital Accra.
Akufo-Addo's information minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, was quick to condemn the accusations as false and "irresponsible."
The candidate's comments mirrored those of US President Donald Trump who lost the presidential election in November but accused his rival of stealing the election.
Failure to accept the electoral commission's results could cast a shadow over the country's democratic credentials.
Both sides claim success
Before the electoral commission came out with its tallied results, the NDC communications director, Sammy Gyamfi, told DW that the commission wasn't doing its job correctly, "but they would fail because they cannot change the will of the people. We don't want to push anyone into any early celebration. We are on course, we have 140 parliamentary seats, safe and secured."
John Boadu, general secretary of the NPP told DW of the implications of accusations coming from the NDC: "Creating insinuations creates a lack of credibility on our whole election process … We are happy to announce that for the next parliament it is obvious from the results declared across the constituencies that the NPP will still maintain a majority in parliament."
(Reuters, AFP, DW)