Ghana's Mahama reaches out to defeated rivals

Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:35pm EST
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By Kwasi Kpodo and Richard Valdmanis

ACCRA (Reuters) - Newly elected Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama on Monday urged his defeated political opponents to join him "as partners" to improve the West African state, as his chief rival threatened to launch a court battle over the poll results.

Mahama was declared winner of the December 7 election, which was widely seen as a test of whether country - one of the fastest growing economies in Africa - can maintain its reputation as a pillar of democracy in a troubled region.

"I wish to welcome my fellow candidates to join me now as partners in the projects of nation-building and of creating a better Ghana," Mahama said in a victory speech to cheering crowds at a field in the capital Accra.

"We have come too far on this journey to weigh ourselves down with pettiness, intolerance and negativity."

Ghana's electoral commission said on Sunday Mahama, who replaced former president John Atta Mills after his death in July, had won 50.7 percent of the ballots cast, enough to avoid a run-off against his main rival Nana Akufo-Addo.

The West African nation's non-partisan Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), which deployed more than 4,000 poll watchers, said the vote had been generally free and fair.

But Akufo-Addo said on Monday his party would take a decision on Tuesday on whether to challenge the results, which he said were manipulated by electoral workers.

"We have serious reservations about the counting and the declaration of results," Akufo-Addo told Reuters in his office at his residence in Accra.   Continued...

Ghana Electoral Commission President Kwadwo Afari-Gyan (C) arrives to announce the results of the presidential election at the commission in Accra, December 9, 2012. 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. REUTERS/Luc Gnago