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Poll dispute tests Ghana's democracy

13 December 2012, 13:04

Accra - Ghana's status as West Africa's flagship democracy has been tested by opposition claims that presidential polls were rigged, but analysts voiced hope the battle would be fought in court, not the streets.

According to the official results, incumbemt John Dramani Mahama was elected with 50.7% of the vote - defeating challenger Nana Akufo-Addo who took 47.74% in Ghana's sixth election since military rule ended in 1992.

Akufo-Addo's New Patriotic Party on Tuesday said it will seek to quash those results in the supreme court, insisting it had substantial evidence of cheating in favour of Mahama.

"It certainly isn't an ideal situation. An ideal situation would be for this to be over," said Victor Brobbey, a legal and political analyst at the Centre for Democratic Development, a think tank in Accra.

"But they aren't asking their supporters to storm the electoral commission to change the result...A legal challenge is something that is envisioned in the laws of the country."

After the results were announced on Sunday, NPP supporters began roaming the streets of Accra, brandishing party colours and insisting Akufo-Addo had been robbed of a win in the 7 December polls.

The crowds have been unruly at times, taunting supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress party who were enthusiastically celebrating, but incidents have been isolated.

After the NPP declared its plans to go to court, Akufo-Addo urged his loyalists to remain calm.

"I'm asking for peace," he told a crowd in central Accra at the same venue where Mahama held his victory rally a day earlier.

Stakes in the election were especially high in the country of 24 million people with a booming economy fuelled in part by a new and expanding oil industry.



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