August 18, 2015 / 4:33 PM / 3 years ago

Ghana opposition demands new electoral register before 2016 poll

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana’s main opposition party asked the electoral commission on Tuesday to create a new voters’ register before next year’s election, after allegations of fraudulent registration overshadowed the West African nation’s last vote.

New Patriotic Party (NPP) leader Nana Akufo-Addo speaks during a meeting to contest the presidential election results, at Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra December 11, 2012. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) said it had overwhelming evidence that the electoral roll used for polls in 2012 was bloated with ineligible voters, including the names of Togolese nationals.

Togo is home to the Ewe ethnic group that is also found in southeastern Ghana, where its members are regarded as strong supporters of President John Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC).

“The voters’ register is incurably flawed and cannot be relied on for the 2016 elections,” NPP vice presidential candidate Mahamudu Bawumia told a news conference. “This morning we presented our arguments and evidence on this matter to the electoral commission.

“The evidence is damning and shows that Ghana’s voters register has been compromised,” he said.

The new register should be created by June next year and be independently audited by an internationally reputable firm ahead of December’s election, Bawumia added.

The NPP challenged the results of Ghana’s 2012 presidential ballot in court, saying Mahama had benefited from illegitimate ballots. The court upheld Mahama’s win after eight months of legal wrangling.

Ghana is considered a model of African democracy thanks to a track record of peaceful elections, regular changes of power and respect for the rule of law since its return to democratic rule in 1992.

The West African state enjoyed years of strong economic growth from its exports of gold, cocoa and oil but was obliged to adopt a $918-million, 3-year deal with the International Monetary Fund in April to correct a persistent fiscal deficit.

The West African country is also grappling with a prolonged power crisis that has crippled industries, leading to stunted economic growth and angry voters.

Mahama is seeking re-election next year in what is expected to be a tight contest between him and the NPP’s Nana Akufo Addo.

Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Daniel Flynn/Mark Heinrich

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