Ghana's Mahama wins election, opposition cries foul

Sun Dec 9, 2012 6:33pm EST
 
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By Kwasi Kpodo and Richard Valdmanis

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana's electoral authorities said on Sunday incumbent leader John Dramani Mahama won a new term as president in the West African state in an election the opposition claimed was marred by tampering.

Mahama, who replaced former president John Atta Mills after his death in July, took 50.7 percent of the ballots cast - just enough to avoid a run-off with his chief rival Nana Akufo-Addo.

"Based on the results, I declare President John Dramani Mahama president elect," Ghana Electoral Commission President Kwadwo Afari-Gyan told a news conference in the capital Accra.

In a brief speech at his residence following the results, an exhausted-looking Mahama said his win was a "victory for all Ghanaians", and urged the leaders of rival parties to "respect the voice of the people".

Supporters of Mahama drove through the streets of the sprawling seaside capital playing loud music, shouting, and honking their horns after the results.

The election is seen as a test of whether Ghana can maintain more than 30 years of stability and progress in a region better known for coups, civil wars and corruption.

A cliff-hanger election in 2008, in which Akufo-Addo lost by less than 1 percent, pushed the country to the brink of chaos, with disputes over results driving hundreds of people into the streets with clubs and machetes.

This year's election was fraught with delays after hundreds of newly-introduced electronic fingerprint readers - used to identify voters - failed on Friday and forced some polling stations to reopen on Saturday to clear the backlog.   Continued...

 
Supporters of National Democratic Congress (NDC) celebrate the victory of their candidate, John Dramani Mahama, on a street in Accra December 9, 2012. Ghana's main opposition party said on Sunday the country's presidential election had been manipulated, raising concerns about the outcome of the poll in a nation seen as a bulwark of democracy in an unstable region. REUTERS/Luc Gnago