Incumbent President John Dramani Mahama was declared the winner of Ghana’s presidential election, winning 50.7 per cent of the votes polled, according to a statement by the election commission. His closest rival, Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who polled 47.7 per cent of the vote, has claimed wide-spread voter fraud and has refused to accept the result.

“We have serious reservations about the validity of what the Chairman of the Electoral Commission has done in declaring results that, by the evidence, do not reflect the mandate of the required majority of the Ghanaian electorate,” said the NPP in a statement posted on their website.

In Accra, armoured tanks have barricaded all roads leading to the Electoral Commission, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Initially scheduled for December 7, voting had to be extended for another day due to technical glitches in the nation-wide biometric voter identification system. Ghanian officials have denied opposition claims of fraud, and international observers from organisations like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have said the elections were transparent and credible.

“The allegations are odd because we used a biometric system to identify each voter. There was a whole list of observers from the Commonwealth, ECOWAS, African Union and European Union. The room for rigging was nonexistent,” said Ghana’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Quartey Kwesi in a telephone conversation in Addis Ababa.

Precautionary step

Mr. Kwesi said 79.8 per cent of registered voters had cast their votes, and described the deployment of tanks on Accra’s streets as a “precautionary measure because the opposition was claiming that the election had been rigged and their supporters were out and about”.

Ghana has one of the longest traditions of democracy in West Africa, and if all remains calm, this particular election shall mark the sixth consecutive peaceful transfer of power.